March 24, 2005

A Reasoned Dissection of the VSTS Debate

Frans Bouma, a Microsoft MVP for C#, has a very reasoned dissection of why the small ISV community is upset about the Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) pricing. While I was pissed at the pricing, he explains the motivations underlying the price debate.

I'm looking at what's happening here and all I can think of is that given how bad the flareup is now, how do you think that the game development community is going to react when the insanely high prices for XNA Studio are announced?

People use Windows because Windows is where the games are at. Game developers (not the publishers, mind you, but the developers) are generally living milestone-to-milestone. Price us out of the water, and two things will happen. First, the number of game developers programming for Windows will decrease, due to either studios closing or studios migrating to other competing platforms. Second, innovation will cease as far as Windows games. Innovation comes out of the smaller studios and indie games. When those are coming out on Linux, what is going to drive people to Windows?

I understand that the Visual Studio team is trying to make themselves a profit center...it's the Microsoft way. However, I'm going to argue that the job of the Visual Studio team is not to make money from Visual Studio, but to keep developers coding for Windows. That is the goal of your products, right? Make developing Windows solutions a productive and profitable business? That means making the best development tools possible for a price that people will want to spend.

Note the "want" in that last sentence. I wanted Visual Studio .NET 2002 Enterprise Architect, and I was able to save up and get it in about three months. You made Visual Studio .NET 2003 Enterprise Architect available as a cheap upgrade ($29). I want Visual Studio Team System because to make quality software, I need several of the features that are contained within. Currently, I get those features from free alternatives, but I want the integration. However, while I want the product, the price suppresses my want. I want my mortgage paid off more than I want your development tool. I want my wife debt-free more than I want your development tool.

Visual Studio 2005 Professional? I can afford that. Take me about a month to save the money for the "upgrade" from Enterprise Architect. I can't see me spending 20 months saving up for the VSTS Suite "subscription."

1 comment:

Scott said...

Some of those game design tools for asset management and art are pretty pricey, too!