Rubicon's Ramblings

Random thoughts from an overworked dev

Windows RT – Might work out at some point.

If anyone already read this post, it has had a very positive effect and Microsoft have graciously decided work with us to iron out the problems and get us past this incident.

With a sense of fair play, I’m putting my grumpiness on hiatus and deleting the juicy bits. Which was all of it, sorry.


88 Responses to “Windows RT – Might work out at some point.”

  • Brian Dreyer says:

    Makes no sense at all… one would think they would roll-out the welcome mat for this.

  • Simon West says:

    That’s such shame. I saw it on there and was tempted to buy it but two things stopped me. One – Lack of achievements on a Windows device. Two – I had already bought it on Android and not played it that much.

    • Rubicon says:

      That’s fair enough. We don’t expect everyone to buy it, but at this stage we would appreciate everyone at least getting to see it.

      Thanks for your Android custom though, shame you didn’t enjoy it.

      • bill sanderson says:

        OK – I read the press coverage, and although I’m not a gamer, I tried looking for the game by both name and developer name in the store on a Surface, and can’t find it.

        Care to give me a clue? Has it been pulled for polishing up?

        • bill sanderson says:

          Forget that–my bad. In fact, I had done the search on an Intel based Windows 8 machine. When I search on an RT machine, the app shows up.

          No need to post either comment–thanks!

  • Raketemensch says:

    Microsoft doesn’t understand how to build a community. At all. This is easily one of my favorite games ever on iOS.

    They’ve proven several times that their strategy with Surface, RT and Win8 is just birdshot — scattered and unfocused, and they don’t know who or what they’re aiming for.

  • Effe says:

    The other platforms promote you because you are long there, but you are new on Windows. Were your first game on iOS or the other platforms promoted big in the first week? While I certainly agree that MS should promote new stuff better and more regularily, I also think it’s a bit unfair and premature to sign out.

    • Rubicon says:

      They were actually. :)

      Besides, it not that we feel a divine right to get featured anyway. What has angered me is the opposite case – it’s been expressly ruled out for us and anyone else doing RT only.

  • Catalin says:

    It’s sad to see good games not get enough attention.

    But why only support ARM devices? It was free for you to also support normal PCs through the Windows Store.

    Remember that the only ARM devices out there at this moment are the Surface tablets. Just saying… maybe if you had supported non-ARM devices, you might have had more sales, letting you climb up the “noteworthy” list faster.

    • Rubicon says:

      There were several reasons, some of them contractual.

      This issue for me is that there shouldn’t be an “ARM only” concept at all. There should be “Tablet only” as tablets are just not pc’s. Different people buy them for different reasons. Apple don’t bundle iPad in with the Mac on their store.

      • Keith Andrew says:

        That’s because they’re not the same OS or marketplace. Windows Store runs across both – it’s one ecosystem – and it has always been Microsoft’s intent to promote it as a united platform – not unreasonable that they would want to steer clear of games that are RT only.

        It’s nonsensical to compare it to iOS and Mac.

        • Rubicon says:

          I think it stands up. Windows RT is not the same operating system as Windows 8 either. And in the case of Apple, that is also one united interface – iTunes.

          • Keith Andrew says:

            The App Store serves iOS. It doesn’t serve Mac.

            I think, more than anything, this highlights the risk of relying on platform holders to promote games. I think the moment Microsoft passed on featuring GBWG, you were in trouble.

            Really, you have to prepare for that. I don’t think you can afford just to put a game out there and assume it will sell, even if the marketplace it launches on is comparatively uncluttered.

            But that’s just my view. :)

        • Karl says:

          I kind of agree with this. If you had previous contractual obligation preventing you from publishing a unified Windows RT/Windows 8 edition of the game on the Microsoft Store it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Microsoft is trying to sell these apps to the millions who are accessing that app store for the first time on their new/upgraded x86 Windows 8 machines.

          • Rubicon says:

            I agree with it too in general. The mistake that has been made is in not allowing developers to differentiate between tablet only and one size fits all. We started out with the assumption this would be case because, well, why wouldn’t it.

  • Stilgar says:

    Quick offtopic question:
    Does it work on x86 Windows 8 and if I buy it now will I be able to play multiplayer in the future or you will abandon it. Also is the multiplayer cross-platform or I will only play against other Windows users?

    The game looks exactly the kind of game I would like on a mobile device.

    • Rubicon says:

      This version won’t. The pure PC version is being sold by our publisher, and they assure me it’s coming to the store soon (no date though unfortunately). In the meantime it’s available on Steam for PC.

      We will never abandon anything we put on sale no matter what.

      • Stilgar says:

        Cool. Does the Steam version have touch optimized UI?

        • Rubicon says:

          It kinda does, but it’s not as bad you might fear.

          We did spend some time making it more like a standard PC game, it’s just that some of the front end graphics are a bit bigger than you might be expecting.

          Makes a change from a tiny menu and lots of empty space. :)

          • Stilgar says:

            I want it to have touch optimized UI. No offense to your game but if I have a PC with mouse and keyboard I would probably be playing StarCraft. I am looking for something to play on a convertible ultrabook/tablet with touch display.

          • Rubicon says:

            No worries, I think I can live with people thinking starcraft is a bigger game than ours – it’s nice to be compared even if we lost. :)

            I think you might be pleasantly surprised by how this work on such a machine, but I’m not gonna force it. What I will do is ask our publishers again why there’s no trial version. I think it just never came up, we’re not trying to hide anything.

  • Ben says:

    You are only supporting ARM with your Game? This is a totally new platform and there are yet not much Windows RT device sold. But there are already millions of pcs running Windows 8.

    • Rubicon says:

      The intention was for “tablet only” which is what our company does – tablet and mobile games. We may well expand to putting more PC versions out in future now that there is a convenient store available, but that’s for the future.

  • Paul says:

    There is only one reason I would re-buy the game or any game I already own on Android – Xbox Achievments

  • Fleon says:

    Well, after reading this post I think:
    1) I’m not sure I get the point of RT. I have both a Win8 RT device and an Atom-based Win8 device. Similar enough battery that I don’t really get the ARM thing.
    2) You guys whine a ton. The thing has been out 5 weeks? 6? I’m even less likely to buy from you now; I tend to expect you’ll just drop the ARM/RT port and I’d feel just screwed.
    3) Maybe some advertising might help through the normal channels. I’ve never heard of this game.

    • Rubicon says:

      1) Me too tbh. I see no gain in buying an ARM tablet over an Intel one. Maybe the battery on ARM should last longer but I have nothing to compare it with atm.

      2) Guilty as charged. Though it’s just me, not the rest of us. :)

      3) We are a tiny indie studio and don’t have the budget, like most mobile devs in a similar position. This was a big risk for us.

      • Fleon says:

        No, I get #3. Having been part of a few startups in various ways, it can be tough. I’d really like to see you get your game in front of a few review sites for visibility, however- it looks compelling and fun!

        Question- do you think you’ll be able to get around the legal/licensing/distribution issues for x86 stuff? I have an RT and an x86 tablet with Win8, and I don’t really fancy having to buy it twice when the Win8 store is pretty much built around the idea of tablet/PC integration. I don’t really see myself using the ARM device as much as the x86 one for now, but if they happen to release an RT device with stylus support, that could very well change in a heartbeat.

        • Rubicon says:

          We don’t really want to get around them, our existing agreement with the publisher is working out well enough in other areas.

          I admit part of this situation is self-inflicted because of this. But its the rules surrounding this issue that strike me as wrong. The problem aiui is that the store can be accessed equally by PC as well as Intel tablet, and there is no way to mark something as “Tablet only” and include Intel devices. It’s designed to be fractured.

          • Fleon says:

            I understand what you are saying. Personally, as a consumer, I love it- I think tablet and PC are much closer than the iOS/Android model of phone and tablet. Hopefully at some point you’d be able to distribute in multiple stores- I know I’m not the only one slightly annoyed at Steam! :)

          • Rubicon says:

            Absolutely. I expect sales of ‘proper’ PC games through this store to be meteoric in the near future. It’s been a long time coming and for me the only real reason to upgrade to Windows 8 on PC in the first place.

            I just wished they allow tablet games to at least be separatable. The market forces might make a bundled pc version a requirement but right now there are many mobile games on other platforms that won’t be coming to this one purely because the authors don’t know how or dont have time to make a DX11, Windows 8 and Windows RT bundle.

          • hicario says:

            As a consumer, I will refuse to buy a Windows RT only game.
            You are targeting WinRT API, I see no reason to expect that your client will buy twice your game depending on the size of the screen or the input method…why not buy a new game because I prefer to play with a mouse+keyboard or with gamepad…seriously.

            I understand your specific case as you are depending on your publisher on “PC” but fortunately as a consumer, Microsoft prevented developers from artificially fragmenting the ecosystem for what is mostly a political reason.

            Now if some developers don’t have time to learn how to target Windows 8/Windows RT…great, that will reduce the amount of crap in the store. I hate when a developer use the cheap path trying to sold me a game that has not been correctly done because it is a simple adaptation from iOS. There are games on Windows store that should work better using a gamepad than using touch as input method and it is a shame these developers don’t even take the time to add such basic feature…

            Now, I bought great little war game on my Android phone and it was one of the greatest game I played on it.
            I checked steam about great big war game but what I saw was not really pleasant. I mean, what the fuck are these oversized blurry screenshots? That gives the feeling the game is not able to use native resolution. Your publisher should really fix that.

    • Stilgar says:

      Just for the record RT was developed and announced before Intel were able to improve the battery life of x86 chips enough to compete with ARM. The decision did make sense for MS back then… now not that much.

  • Fleon says:

    Oh, one last thing- you might want to take advantage of the different buying patterns that exists in the consumers of these different devices. I realized I’d seen Great Big War Game on my Surface RT after looking it up again. I also remembered the reason I hadn’t gotten it- Win8, unlike iOS/Android, has the ability for you to put out a trial. If your game had a trial version, I’d have definitely downloaded and given it a shot. If you do some internet research, I think you’ll find that this has been the best model for revenue in the WP7/WP8 stores and that the trial->full version turnover is actually pretty high.

    • Rubicon says:

      A trial version is in the pipeline.

      • Rod says:

        Don’t underestimate how important a trial is in the Windows store. Make it generous with an option to purchase the full game. Even the Angry Birds franchise has an unlimited time trial.

      • Michel Lapointe says:

        Same here, saw the game, but without a trial, to see at least what the game look/feel like, I won’t pay for it.

        But a trial, will be happy to test it, and pay for it if I’m having fun…

      • Lukas says:

        Any news on the trial version? The game looks sweet in screenshots, but that’s not enough for me to buy a pig in a poke…

        • Rubicon says:

          We have a small update coming soon after xmas (possibly just before) and this will get rolled in at the same time.


  • [...] of – wait for it – $84 in its first week in the Windows Store.As a matter of pure fact, he went on to say that Windows RT is simply born to fail.Ouch.The developer decided to port one of their games to [...]

  • Microsoft has got a big problem with it’s Windows store in regard to app and game promotion. It doesn’t help that the store is filled with garbage bin apps as well.

  • [...] quick reach out in this situation? Was Rubicon justified in its complaints to begin with or not?[ source ] /**/Microsoft has a strong third quarterMicrosoft's Tuesday Patch fixes 28 [...]

  • Duncan440 says:

    I think what might also be hurting you is the fact that the game lacks a trial mode. There is now way I and many other people, will drop $2.99 on a game that we nothing about. I think that if you guys included a trial, the game would sell much more

  • CandideYams says:

    I’m just confused why you’re raising such a stink when clearly you’re a smaller dev that doesn’t even have a trial version of your game. 886 Likes on Facebook and 511 followers on twitter yet you’re complaining about how little your game has made on a platform that is 5 weeks old? Grow up! You have to build up the marketing. i have a Surface and didn’t even know your app existed, nor even knew you existed. But congratulations, you now have tons of publicity in gaming blogs and people are jumping on the bandwagon that Microsoft doesn’t support developers (which you know for a fact is not true) just because your app isn’t performing the way YOU expected.

    • Rubicon says:

      Clearly we still have a hill to climb, but this is not a new IP. We have 3.2 million customers from the original game to which this is a critically acclaimed sequel. The fact that you have never even heard of it on surface, even whilst the store is relatively empty, is actually kinda my point.

      Of course that doesn’t mean you’ll want to buy it, and if the game flops on this format then fair enough, I’m not complaining that people don’t like it, that would be massively arrogant. The issue here, as I see it, is that apps which are tablet only come with an “auto invisible” feature that’s not doing anybody any good.

      • CandideYams says:

        Well congrats on getting what you wanted. I’ll keep this lesson in mind for when things don’t go my way right away.

  • timtam says:

    i just watched a trailer for this game and its seems like cool game to play
    tried to find it on windows phone and its not available are you considering windows phone version in the near future :)

  • [...] much in need of some sweeter news.Filed under: Gaming, MicrosoftCommentsVia: Games IndustrySource: Rubicon Blog Source: Engadget   « Chris Carberry: The Politics o…   No [...]

  • [...] an angry blog post titled “Windows RT – Born to fail”, UK-based developer Rubicon originally blamed Microsoft for the paltry sum and said it won’t [...]

  • Alex says:

    How many Windows RT models are out there?

    How many Android and IOS gears are out there?

    Of course it needs time for a new system to gather enough people to be competitive in some way and as you can see also Microsoft needs time to understand how the whole app-system works! They natively come from a business world in the mobile thing and are clearly not used to work with all the little app designers.

    But i think you could not have a better publicitiy for your game ;-)

  • Padwah says:

    I tend not to buy games blindly so usually only buy games from the store that offer a trail version so that I can see if I actually like the game before committing. So as you don’t offer a trail version I’ve largely ignored the game when browsing the store and I’m sure others are the same.

    I think you should consider offering a trail version as a number of windows phone revs have blogged about better sales through offering a trail version. You’ll also get better organic sales through more potential reviews.

  • Keith says:

  • phazer says:

    Played (and tested) GLWG on iOS, would totally get it if it was on x86! Any plans for that?

    • Rubicon says:

      Probably, that’ll be our test of the market for a full windows 8 store app without any of these horrible exceptions. I’m still surprised (and obviously very happy) that the original game is still selling fairly strongly, so we’re still keen to support it and get it out to more people.

  • bob says:

    Why have you built for ARM only? Most Windows 8 devices, including tablets are Intel and will be for years to come.

    You seem to be deliberately damaging your own sales. Very few apps are only built for ARM and ARM is not the same as ‘tablet’.

    Why not help yourself and publish an Intel version to the store immediately?

    • Rubicon says:

      Contractual issues.

      I’m still not convinced about this though. You’re right of course, there is a much bigger market out there for pc games, but tablet only should be “a thing” imo. All other device makers seem to agree with me so time will tell. If we hadn’t expected this to be the case, we would’ve bided our time. An assumption led to a mistake, but given how 99.999% of the wider tablet market works, I don’t think it was forseeable when we started this a few months back.

      • bob says:

        You signed a contract that means you can only ship on ARM?

        If so, it seems like you may have cut off your own market. This is not about tablet, this is about which chips are in most machines across tablet and the other forms.

        That’s Intel when it comes to Windows – even for ‘tablet’.

        • Rubicon says:

          No, we signed a contract saying we can only ship on tablets and phones. The problem with intel tablets that we didn’t see coming is that games allowed to run on those can also be run on a PC.

          In fact, there’s not really any such thing as “Intel tablet” from a publishing perspective. There’s just windows 8 which runs on both tablet and desktop. With no “Tablet Only” option (that I find ridiculous) that means Intel is out because the desktop part of that is covered by our PC publisher’s rights.

          I don’t know why so many people are finding this strange tbh, we make mobile games – phones and tablets. It’s what we do, and usually all we do. On other formats this works just fine, as both things are (correctly imo) grouped together, with desktop/laptop offerings being separate.

          And there’s a reason every other device maker keeps them separate. A tablet game will not be ideal on a PC, and a PC game will not be ideal on a tablet.

          And there’s a pricing issue too. Because of the market on iOS and Android, most tablet or phone games cost between $1 and $3. If you want a “pc” quality experience, that’s not viable.

          (Our game actually does come with a stack of content way beyond it’s $3 pricepoint, but most don’t and that won’t change).

          • phazer says:

            With Windows 8 Microsoft is going for a new direction when it comes to tablets and PCs. For developers, this means that their apps can reach a wide audience since the Windows Store is open to traditional PC users too. For consumers, we can buy apps and use them on both PCs and tablets. Or if you’re just using a PC (like I am now, although I intend to buy a Windows 8 tablet), you can still check out nice apps in a central marketplace.

            Gameplay/control-wise, there’s always a way to make things work. For the most part, simple touch-based games work decently with a mouse too. Some less so than others but it generally works fine unless you’re aiming for top score or something. I haven’t played GBWG on Steam yet but since it’s there I assume it plays well with a mouse.

            That depends on what you mean by PC-quality. I don’t think anyone expects a $50 retail game kind of app on the Store. Rather, they’re looking for tablet-styled apps and small downloadable games — for example, what you can find on Steam at $2-10 price ranges (probably why Valve isn’t too happy about Windows 8).

  • Howard Abraham says:

    I actually bought this app yesterday (before I heard about all the controversy). I got the Surface on launch day. I check every day for new apps. I guarantee that every app that is NEW doesn’t show up as NEW. The only way I found your app is by specifically looking for strategy games. As a devotee to WP7/WP8 I will add my voice to the throng and say that we are accustomed to trial modes. Please don’t assume that success on Android or iOS means MS users have even heard of your game. I looked at buying your app as a risk because it was new to me. But the graphics looked well-done and it seemed like the type of game I sought. I have played the first four levels and I’m having fun with it. I am glad you brought your game to RT and I hope to see more.

    • Rubicon says:

      Thanks for this Howard, and glad you’re enjoying it. I was fearing the worst there for a moment! :)

      Yeah, it’s been brought home about the trial. It was always on the cards but right now we’re finishing up the WP8 version as top priority – should be out in a week or two, into cert this week.

  • [...] an angry blog post titled “Windows RT – Born to fail”, UK-based developer Rubicon  originally blamed Microsoft for the paltry sum and said it [...]

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  • Ryan says:

    I’ve been a fan of your company’s games since on Android — with terrific graphics and very entertaining gameplay on GLWG — so I hope you won’t abandon the platform outright.

    I think the main issues developers are having with sales revolves around the Windows Store. If you are in contact with Microsoft, I hope you and other developers can impress upon them how important discoverability is within their marketplace. Not just in promotion but users navigating the app store is really lacking compared to iOS and Android. Maybe due to them aiming for minimalism in the design, basic categories (e.g. New+Rising, Trending, Popular) are missing on the main page, there’s a lack of regular updates in the ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Noteworthy’ categories, and most importantly there’s no ‘Recommended Apps for You’ section I can see. All these things are essential for developers, both big and small, to succeed. Right now, the onus is on the user and the store really doesn’t enable their browsing and purchasing. Even the listings per the categories look to have some arbitrary limit on what it displays and it’s been quite stagnant, with the same apps listed day after day. Until that’s addressed, it’s hard to see what traction developers (outside very large studios and those connected to MS Studios) are going to get. And it’s going to severely worsen apps being lost in the shuffle at launch — a staple, from personal experience, of iOS and Android marketplaces (which is especially odd since the Store isn’t nearly as large).

    Anyways, my 2 cents. Hopefully Microsoft will make the necessary changes. I had been looking for a Strategy game in the vein of GLWG and did not even find out about it until this post. So best of luck, hopefully it picks up — you’ve got my purchase anyways. And the app is fantastic on the Surface RT.

    • Rubicon says:

      Thanks for that, agree with all of it.

      We’ll see how it goes in the future – without the wrinkle of our PC situation we should be able to get something more widespread for our next efforts.

      We will of course be fully supporting this game, we’d never just cut anything loose.

  • Stubo says:

    Really hope all of this got sorted. Your game is good. I found out about it through NVidia’s app, Tegrazone. I gave it a look, didn’t really grab me though, so I passed it up.

    About two weeks later, got wind of all this ruckus through a few Surface blogging sites, and ending up buying it. I quite like it :)

    Like someone else said, this whole thing sure has given you a heap of publicity. Just for the general publics information, how are the sales going now? Are you satisfied with the numbers you’re getting atm? I hope so.

    • Rubicon says:

      Thanks Stubo, glad you liked it after all that. :)

      Sales are a bit better now, yes. Not exactly stellar, but a lot more reasonable than that first week. This is probably most down to the increasing numbers of tablets being sold. Will be a long time before we catch up with Android and iOS though, but I suppose that’s natural for now – time will tell.

      • Stubo says:

        Yeah, I do think that is totally natural. You won’t be able to compare Windows RT (all of 2 months on the market) vs iPad (what, going on three years now?). There’s obviously going to be a discrepancy there for a while yet.

        Very much impressed with the Surface so far though (perfect blend of productivity / casual entertainment), and I’ll be sure to recommend your app to any friends that pick it up in the future.

        Cheers for the support, and thanks for blogging about this :P I hope it means you can enjoy success with GBWG on the platform in the months to come.

  • [...] Great Big War Game Port For Windows RT Made Only $83 In Its First Week (Update) (Polygon) “Great Big War Game, the Rubicon-developed 3D turn-based strategy game that was well received when it first launched on iOS and Android devices, made the developer only 52 British pounds, or roughly $83, in its first week when it was ported to Windows RT, according to the studio co-founder Paul Johnson in a recent blog post.” [...]

  • Rubicon says:


    We’ve managed to negotiate a deal with our PC publisher that now allows us to offer the full package, RT and x86 included.

    To all those offering real insight about how this is easy to do, it was very useful thanks. Now that we’re allowed to, we ticked the x86 box and packaged up the game. Funny, we’d never spotted that checkbox before…

  • [...] their app only made €52 on their first week in the Windows Store.  In an angrily titled post Windows RT — born to fail, the developer complains of low sales and no promotion from Microsoft.  The post was eventually [...]

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