Borut Pfeifer and developer 17-bit Studios signed an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for its game Skulls of the Shogun. The game was released in January on Surface, Windows Phone and Xbox Live Arcade in January. Now that that window of exclusivity is almost over, Borut Pfeifer is relieved. Speaking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Pfeifer says that if he could go back in time, "he would kick himself in the balls" so that – presumably – he wouldn't sign such a restrictive deal.
"I personally would like to go back in time and kick myself in the balls. I’d just like to have that year and a half of my life back," he tells RPS.
"We knew we were kind of making a deal with the devil," Pfeifer continued. "Probably one of our biggest mistakes was thinking in 2008 terms, where it's like 'if you want to be on console you've got to be a console first,' and that's not true anymore."
Pfeifer also shared some of the issues he had with Microsoft including conflicting certification issues, poor communication, and unpaid staff.
"Even though they were partially funding the game to completion, we had to take a loan to cover the fact that they hadn't yet paid us when they were supposed to," says Pfeifer. "We thought 'well, it's Microsoft, they have bankroll, they can afford this stuff.' But because of their processes seeming so fucked up, they couldn't actually do that."
Pfeifer said that the game didn't perform as well as he had anticipated:
"We hoped they'd sell a few million tablets, and from most reports they did, but either those people are not buying games or they're not buying games for more than a dollar or two dollars."
Pfeifer did say that Microsoft never tried to interfere creatively and that Microsoft Studios worked hard to bring the game to release.
"At the same time there are systemic problems with the way that division is set up and run," says Pfeifer. "They came across as though they were institutionally incompetent. I think they're not really set up to be a decent publisher."
But at the end of the day Pfeifer says that Microsoft being called evil is an underserved descriptor.
You can read the entire interview here.