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Indie devs fear marginalisation by new Xbox dash

Overhaul labels XBLIG titles 'specialty shops', won't show them in searches

Independent developers are protesting changes to the Xbox Live Marketplace that, they claim, reduce the likelihood of console owners finding their games.

Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIGs) has been relocated from the games store section of the Marketplace to a new area known as 'Specialty Shops,' which also plays home to the likes of Avatar customisation items.

In addition, indie titles no longer show up in title name and genre searches on the Marketplace, and can only be found by specifically visiting the Specialty Shops.

In a long-running thread on the App Hub (formerly XNA) forums, many developers have expressed their discontent with the new system.

Said a member of Projector Games, "Steam Heroes was one of the first games to come out after the new dash change and I have to say that our sales have been beyond horrible - which is surprising, as I'd say it's one of the better games I've released on XBLIG."

"We [are] now beside the walking dead Game Room," claimed FuncWork's Michael C. Neel. "The list of Specialty Shops is almost a "VH1 Where are they now?" episode."

However, other developers were cautiously positive, claiming the reorganisation might help the better games float to the top, and that proximity to the likes of the Avatar and Rock Band stores may prove beneficial.

"My experience has been that when the beta launched my 2 year old game Drum Kit had a weird spike in sales for about a week or two," said 'BigDaddio.'

Many developers also lamented opaque game approval rules and an alleged lack of communication from Microsoft.

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Latest comments (12)

Wesley Williams Quality Assurance 7 years ago
Games should be in the game marketplace, it's just common sense.

However, if Microsoft feel there's a need for an app marketplace to filter out all the XBLIGs that are non-games, I'm all for that.

Now can someone please change my UI back to the old one, this new one is bloody awful.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Wesley Williams on 2nd November 2010 9:23am

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Mark Raymond Gamer; Consumer; Blogger 7 years ago
It feels Microsoft was embarrassed over the general quality on show in Indie Games, and so they've relegated it into obscurity instead. A shame, because there are (were?) some decent titles in there. Leave Home is very good, as is Beat Hazard.
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Eloy Ribera CEO, Ninja Fever7 years ago
Rest in peace, XBLIG. Now, Indie Games are not games any more, just "special" things. The change is all about crappy games on the channel, but the responsability is ALL for Microsoft. There is no minimum quality bar for the community to pass or fail a game to be published on the marketplace.

Microsoft has to rethink the XBLIG, starting with the certification process of the games, and following with achievements & leaderboards. Three things that most XBLIG developers are demanding for a long time now.
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Show all comments (12)
Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 7 years ago
I have yet to updated mine so I haven't seen this for myself. if true though I'd have to say I'm very disappointed.
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Simon Jefferies Lead Programmer, Gusto Games Ltd7 years ago
They need to introduce a certification process to ensure the quality of the games is good enough. I dont think peer rating is enough? I believe MS are/were onto a winner with XBLIG but it's slipping now. I am very interested in making games for this platform but wonder if it's worthwhile and this is a case of rethinking.

As for the overall look of the dashboard I like it over the deck of cards style. Certainly feel more at home and the information is there now.
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Ryan Locke Lecturer in Media Design, University of Abertay Dundee7 years ago
Do you think this may sway some lovely titles in PS3's direction? I've been very happy with some of the titles on the PSN, but it seems to have slowed as late, and I'm scraping the barell on steam.
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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship7 years ago
The problem with XBLIG is a simple lack of exposure. There is crap on there, but there is crap on every platform with relatively low barriers to entry. Strict quality control hasn't helped WiiWare take off. It's a lack of exposure with an audience that does not entirely overlap with the great indie blossoming occurring on PC.

XNA is great tech, by far my favourite way to make games. I WANT to use it. But what seems to happen is that the indie game channel gets shoe horned into whatever current strategic focus predominates over at Redmond. Yesterday it was avatars and casual. Today it's mobile. MS wants XBLIG devs to churn out games for win7 phones, hence XNA 4.0's efforts to finally produce a consistent cross platform API. What will it be tomorrow? Kinect support?

It's all well and good to point XNA developers at the latest channel - but without a front row seat on the market place it's all redundant. The top selling indie games are only shifting 100-200k copies, which is a lot but as a dev when you consider that this is your absolute BEST CASE SCENARIO you begin to think of other options, where the potential upside doesn't look so capped.
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Matthew Harrington Programmer/ game designer 7 years ago
This is a stupid approach I look to buy games in a games section. I would never think of buying a game not listed there, it's demeaning.

This will remove, the possibility of 'pun sales', when people buying other games are looking for something else then have a go on the Indies.

Now Indie developer's who have no budget will not be able to get any sales unless they invest heavily into marketing. Which is ridiculas as it is well known the games released here are small teams or individuals as hobbyists.
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Jonathan Lester News Editor/ Freelance Contributor 7 years ago
I've been in contact with a fair few Xbox Live Indie/Boutique studios who claim that they'll have to move towards PS Home and PSP Minis without more exposure and a greater degree of respect from MS. Microsoft's "deafening" lack of communication is actually one of the main problems- and employing a dedicated community manager or management team to liaise between them would really help with this.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
So... this is what happens when you treat developers like an obsolete OS? Interesting...
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Lewis Marriott Functionality QA Tester 7 years ago
Well done, Microsoft. Well done...
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Private Industry 7 years ago
Sony will be happy about it, moving indie games from the games section into the same section where Avatar clothes are sold is just a bad joke on the expenses of the indie devs. You find nice unknown games by browsing the games section and not go into "Specialty Shops" section. They are games so they should be in the games section. Just make a sub section in the normal games section called Indie games and everything is good
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