The state of XBOX Live Indie Games

Everywhere you go at the moment there are doomsayers around XBLIG development.

Microsoft dropping support for XNA, new consoles coming out of our ears and then those pesky smartphones taking all of the credit.

Well, I thought I’d put together a few musings on the state of the market.

We are only a small operation and [shh, don't tell anyone] we don’t spend as much time as we’d like adding content to the site.  We are going to get a bit busier on it, just needed to clear the runway with other side-projects.


The peer review system has been greatly lambasted recently.  Yes, the idea of developing a game that might not even get approved is a real worry.

But, having said that, surely if the game isn’t good enough it shouldn’t be there cluttering up the release schedule.

Bad games and bugs simply hinder the market.  Users are happy to pay a few $ to get a game, but some of the stuff on there is just dire.

We try to keep away from giving negative feedback as, ultimately, this is probably someone’s 2 year hobby and negative feedback serves no purpose.

We prefer to focus on the games we think are worth shelling out for.

The peer review system is flawed, of course.  Not IMHO because of the chance of being tested by your competitors, but because there is no incentive to approve or refuse a game.

In an ideal world the system would be run by employees of Microsoft in a similar way to XBLA and full priced games.

Of course this would cost money and would delay approval of games.  A price worth paying? Yes, I think so.

Having fewer games on XBLIG would be great.  The quality of those games would increase and having direct input from Microsoft would bind the indie dev’s to Microsoft and open up the possibility of co-marketing and a greater awareness through the XBOX dashboard.

I also agree that the demo system needs to change.  You can’t possibly get a feel for the game in a couple of minutes.  Well you can if it’s an arcade type game, but anything that requires a bit of exploring is not really going to work.

I’d also change the splash screen (when the game loads). It looks old and it looks a bit amateurish.

So, with all of the doom and gloom it’s easy for dev’s to forget the platform and go for the iOS/ Android marketplace.  The question I’d ask is would you prefer to be a decent sized fish in a smaller pond OR a minnow in the large pond.

To get anywhere in the itunes/ android stores you’d better be prepared to spend money.  The chances of earning money are very very slim.

I took a look at the top selling games of all-time on the XBOX site.  All of the usual suspects are there; CastleMiner, CastleMiner Z, Castle this, Miner that.. BUT take a look at position 30.

Position 30 is occupied by a game called White Noise Online.  This game was only released a few months ago – right at the point when everyone was calling the XBLIG market dead.

There’s life in the old box yet.