Indie titles back in games section of Xbox Live

Microsoft reverses controversial Marketplace change

Xbox Live Indie Games are now back in the Games & Demos section of Xbox Live after Microsoft controversially placed them elsewhere.

Following the most recent dashboard update, independent games were moved to the Speciality Shops section of the Xbox Live Marketplace, with title names absent from searches on the service - causing upset amongst developers who felt their work would struggle to be discovered by consumers.

Microsoft defended the move stating it was an effort to group Xbox Live Indie Games together and make them easier to find.

However, the move has now been reversed, with the Xbox Live Indie Games once again in the Games & Demos section of the Game Marketplace.

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Latest comments (16)

Eloy Ribera CEO, Ninja Fever11 years ago
Microsoft is hearing indie developers, so very good news :) Maybe next time they will ask before doing any changes. I think indies and MS want the same thing: XBLIG to be profitable, so it's time to start with more changes in favour of the indie channel. XNA forums are plenty of good proposals to improve the system. Placing XBLIG back in games section seems like a good starting point.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany11 years ago
Wow!, will you look at that!.

Wonderful news; this are very competitive time for indie developers. It is good that one layer of dificulty has been removed this way :)
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Alan Jack Studying MProf Games Development, University of Abertay Dundee11 years ago
A good move, but I think they just caved to peer pressure. If they really want to boost indie games, they need to find a way promote the real heart of indie games - innovation and creativity - over cheap exploitation.

If the prominent games in the section were things like "Fishing Girl" or "In The Pit" and not "Baby Maker", "Too Many Girls, Not Enough Time", or "Try Not To Fart" or Generic Twin-Stick Zombie/Bright-Light Shooter #s 1-100, maybe upcoming designers would be inspired to innovate and get creative and not just appeal to the lowest common denominator.

We need it to be more like the Dailymotion or Vimeo of games rather than the Youtube.
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Show all comments (16)
Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship11 years ago
The issue is the feedback loop of getting in the current Top Rated and Top Downloaded lists. It's like the app store - once you're entrenched on those lists, you're pretty difficult to dislodge.

On the other hand, a lot of what I would consider cheap, avatar crap does just seem to sell, and to be honest, who are we to call for the game to be rigged in favour of 'our' kinds of games? I prefer an open marketplace with all that entails. Let a thousand flowers bloom, and all that.

It's interesting - if you go to and look at the indie game lists, you can see that the ratings system IS working to a degree. Things like Baby Maker Extreme, whilst clearly selling well, isn't getting as good a rating as a lot of the higher quality titles. What's clear to me looking at the Best Selling list is that you've basically got three kinds of games in there - releases that are doing well thanks to their intrinsic fun value, niche or quality (MAED A GAME, RC AirSim, Impossible Game etc), avatar games (which vary in quality, some are actually very good) and then the shock / gimmick value apps like Rumble Massage et al.

This seems a natural ecosystem to have emerged given the rules that Microsoft has laid down. If they ever introduce Kinect support we'll see a slew of them as well. As much as I dislike the Avatar content, and wouldn't dream of making it myself in a million years, people clearly do want it.

The best we can hope for, I think, is better and more ways to disect the catalogue to find exactly the set of content you're most interested in, and we're getting closer to it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick McCrea on 9th November 2010 1:33pm

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Josef Brett Animator 11 years ago
MS listen!
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Blessing Tsanga Studying Games technology, University of Portsmouth11 years ago
inresponse to Alan Jack:

I think indie games need the kind of freedom that Actionscript has but with a bit more stuff added so that folks on live don't think they are paying for stuff found free online

Anybody who is sane knows that its an abomination to allow them to carry on in this way
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Joel Windels Community Manager, Vertical Slice11 years ago
A great and surprising response. Nice to know a little bit of dissent can go a long way
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 11 years ago
Im still amazed at how critical the positioning on the dash is viewed. Yes ofcourse its important but I cannot imagine it affecting sales by a huge amount. Seems consumer interest needs to be generated outside of the actual xbox experience for the most part, that is the issue at hand, not where the Indie games are found on the dash.
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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship11 years ago
Unfortunately, Aleksi, the strong belief (and anecdotal evidence at least confirms this) amongst the indie games community is that dashboard positioning is THE primary determinant in overall sales on the channel, dwarfing almost every other factor.

The key to sales success is to obviously to make the top download and top rated list, using the short period of time you have in new releases as the boost into longer term sales success. Whilst external PR efforts for individual games seem to be able to change your place WITHIN the indie games community (i.e. a mention on Penny Arcade, reviews on major sites etc), the position of indie games on the dashboard is a force multiplier - the rising or ebbing tide upon which all indie games float, and it seems that it does have an enormous effect.

Again, many people with games in the top lists reported overnight sales drops of around 50% after the dashboard change. Discoverability is the absolute key issue to most indies on Live.
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Mark Bridges Human 11 years ago
Awesome news. Now we just have to get dev's to stop releasing shoddy games like baby maker extreme, and those stupid massage controller apps. Instead focus there time on polished games.
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Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus 11 years ago
Well, I think this whole thing has been overblown - product placement isn't nearly as much of a problem for Indie games as the fact that 90% of them are terrible, and it's hard to remove that perception with virtually no controls on the service - but it's nice to see Microsoft at least throwing people a bone.
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Carol X.11 years ago
I don't think Microsoft intended to ostracize indie developers with that move. They've even announced that indies will be able to develop for Kinect soon... They're betting on these developers to be one of the strenghts of their platforms.

Microsoft knows that Kinect has potential to be much more than a gaming accessory. Indie developers push creativity beyond industry limits, even if they cannot deliver industry-standard quality. I guess they were already aiming for that -- only with a bad timing.

Microsoft is really trying to modernize, to be more open, and I see that as a good sign.
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 11 years ago
"Again, many people with games in the top lists reported overnight sales drops of around 50% after the dashboard change. Discoverability is the absolute key issue to most indies on Live. "

I would say that having 1 day sales data flactuations as a either a negative or positive benchmarking tool is kind of short sighted. Again I do accept the fact that positioning has an effect on sales but personally id be looking at AAA-titles launches around the period my Indie game sales have gone down, the quality of my product and so on. The dash update and for example Kinect launch coincided pretty much with one another, people do have limited time and resources to spend.
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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship11 years ago
I acknowledge what you're saying - natural variation means no meaningful conclusions could be drawn over short time scales. But the change was very sudden, and very precipitous by all accounts, and lasted a full week. Live group at Microsoft, who are obviously in full possession of the relevant figures, acted decisively to change it back. Does that not suggest that their internal data backed up the claims of the community? If it didn't, why didn't they make a statement to that effect? I don't think they'd have caved purely to some angry forum posts - some hard data made them revert the change. As you'll well know, MS are not a company that act on whimsy when it comes to user-facing features and choices; metrics and sophisticated lab-based usability testing are often extensively employed.

On the AAA-titles launch window note, many indie devs do just that. Halo Reach caused a stir in the numbers, though interestingly many used the Halo Reach launch as a kind of sales impact event benchmark to emphasise just how terrible the effect of the dashboard change was, in their opinion :)
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Michal Kovanda11 years ago
Nice news! Really nice way to play indie games :)
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Matthew Harrington Programmer/ game designer 11 years ago
brilliant news nice to know they actually listen :D
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