Indie devs shun Xbox dashboard update

XBLIG community expresses concerns that new UI will harm sales

Representatives from the Xbox Live Indie Games community have expressed concern over the changes made to the Xbox Live dashboard.

A number of developers told Eurogamer that the Metro update has shifted emphasis away from games in general, and the Indie Games channel in particular.

Brett Eveleigh, who developed Avatar Battle Bees, predicted that the XBLIG community's disappearing faith in the platform will be further eroded by the new UI.

"Microsoft take a back-seat approach and only really gets involved to take a cut of your sales and make the games slightly harder to find with each new dashboard update," he explained.

"Not that anyone wants to go through the pain of retail/arcade style certification but it feels like Microsoft has abandoned the platform in favour of Windows Phone 7. But instead of admitting it they're brushing it under the carpet and hoping it'll go away."

Indie Games are not listed under the 'New Arrivals' or 'Genre tabs'. Instead, users have to go through the 'Game Type' tile, or, if they know the title of what they are looking for, use the new Bing search function.

At present, there is an Indie Games tile, but there is widespread concern that it will be periodically replaced by other rotating promotions.

According to Mommy's Best Games founder Nathan Fouts, the new UI is endemic of Microsoft's decision to shift the emphasis away from games and towards multimedia content.

"For better or worse, the new Metro layout is an advertiser's dream," he said. "Every single main page now has an advertisement on it (you can't scroll away any more), there are dozens of secret little places to feature things, and it's easy to get lost."

"But simply getting to the main portal for Arcade, Games on Demand or Indie Games, or for that matter my own game library is a chore. I like the 'quick list' but if it would have a simple connection to my complete library, it would be a huge help."

Cthulhu Saves The World developer Robert Boyd was more reserved in his appraisal, explaining that Microsoft seems to be promoting "individual games more but hiding the [XBLIG] channel as a whole."

However, a representative from Microsoft replied to the various concerns, highlighting the need for Indie developers to market their own games to achieve success.

"Indie developers have told us they are looking for an easy route to market, which is the biggest hurdle to overcome, and we've provided that for them with Xbox Live Indie Games," the spokesperson told Eurogamer.

"But they've got to take that next step and do marketing after the launch. We encourage indie developers to work together and support each other in marketing efforts, like the Indie Games Winter and Summer Uprising promotions."

According to the spokesperson, the average revenue for the top 50 games is "well over $100,000 per title," and the company expects that to increase as the Xbox 360 continues to sell in huge numbers.

Rob Fahey's editorial on the dashboard update can be found here.

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Latest comments (11)

>$100,000 average for the top 50 XBLIG games? Wow; that's got to be skewed towards the top. I wonder what the median is in the top 50.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 7 years ago
I have to say that having ads on a system you're paying for like this is just annoying.... having the usability of the UI decrease with each update is even more so.

The indie part of XBox live was already a no-no for me since every game requires an always-on connection to the net and i'm not willing (or able without purchasing more equipment) to do that so essentially no reason except an arbitrary one.
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Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design7 years ago
I'm not a fan of the new Metro UI in terms of functionality. Sure, it looks nice and all but there's a painfully obvious slant towards Kinect use over controller use. Searching for content on Bing is a pain with controller - the lack of a traditional QWERTY interface and comically oversized thumbnails of search results are two terrible inclusions.

In relation to Indie Games, Microsoft needs to do more promoting these through some kind of Inside Xbox-style show. Independint Charles was great at highlighting some of the more diverse XBLIG games but was short-lived. The new dash is more focused towards movies and TV than games and this will only serve as a negative knock-on effect to the Indie Games scene.
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Show all comments (11)
Erik Yuzwa Developer 7 years ago
If Indies are abandoned this way and left to self-promote, then they should be entitled to the same device / platform access that the AAA titles get. They should have the same access to Beacons, Cloud Storage, providing Box Art for their titles, etc. that everyone else gets.

It's currently just a passive-aggressive solution to make sure Indies leave the platform out of frustration. You can only be treated as second-class for so long.
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Alex Bortoluzzi President and CEO, Xoobis7 years ago
Sorry, consoles. You better fight harder to keep yourselves relevant. You have one more gen to go, make it count.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 7 years ago
So, hang on...

""But they've got to take that next step and do marketing after the launch. We encourage indie developers to work together and support each other in marketing efforts, like the Indie Games Winter and Summer Uprising promotions."

MS interefere slightly with releases (requiring certification and whatnot), take a financial cut, and then leave the dev out to dry, saying that they have to market themselves and push their own product?

Aaaaaaaaaand why are people against the PC market and Steam in particular? From the outside looking in, Steam appears to be less of a pain in the behind to work with, and work damn hard to promote your game. Surely the 360 is now (or will be very soon) at the point of diminishing returns when it comes to indie titles?
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Mike Wells Writer 7 years ago
One of the great contributors to the success of the Xbox and the Xbox360 was that it managed to avoid slavishly following the Windows UI (typically required for marketing rather than practical reasons on other devices that MS 'touched'). Unfortunately, with the Metro update, that has been lost. Speaking as a gamer, who wants to play games and maybe download some demos, DLC or other games and doesn't give a monkey's about streaming movies, facebook, etc, the new interface is awful. It's hard to see what tile has focus, it's cluttered and it's harder to find what you're looking for. Not that MS is the only guilty party. Look at the new BBC home page. I'm sure it's great on an iPad, pity I use it on a PC. Thanks for that, Steve.
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Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 7 years ago
Nothing really has blown me away about the new dashboard. In fact, I find I have to perform a few additional actions to get to a certain arcade game or video on my network. The promise of YouTube is nice, but since it's a promise I write it off as if the feature isn't there. I also lost my ability to see the bigger CBC clips, so actually I lost a good number of features.

Maybe it's a necessary evil for the future of the platform, if so, so be it. I use it for other media as much as I do for games, if it saves me blowing money on other solutions, I'll be happy.
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Well, I have to say: The new UI is horrible. I hate it. I have yet to figure out how to BUY arcade games! I dont know how to do it in this "THING". I didnt found the Xblig and just now I know why. This is ridiculous but, in fact, its much more easier to use Netflix.

I really want to get do the responsible for this update and ask why they did it this way.
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises7 years ago
I haven't updated it yet, but I can't see how it will be any worse than the current or previous menus from the 360 or PS3. It's always a struggle just to find the menu for playing the game or bluray that's currently in the system.

Being able to search for Indie games sounds reasonable, if you promote the game enough and people hear about it then go searching for it they'll actually find it. That seems easier than having them first find the downloadable games section, then the indie games section, then your category, then your game. Unless your game is called "The", then the new search feature won't help much.

Unless the search feature sucks as bad as the actual Bing search engine, if that happens then only the first 10 characters of your game title will be indexed, and after you submit it will take up to 9 months to know if you're accepted. BUT, if somehow google is also showing your game in its search results then the Bing XBox search will also list you and even show you in the same position as google.
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Ian Brown IT Developer / IT Infrastructure 7 years ago
My biggest gripe with the new update is the adverts. Sorry but if you pay for the service you shouldn't have the adverts. If you use the silver (free) account then its reasonable as far as I see it to have adverts on your service. Sticking them on the subscription based service just seems more of an insult considering they didn't have anything advertised before the last dash update and now it feels like im on WE7 or something being bombarded by adverts for things like Lynx and lucozade every time i turn my xbox on. I have been using Live for the past 8 years (soon to be 9) and while it has nice new features added to it it seems to be steering itself to more of a giant advert with games left to a small 5cm window in the corner of the screen.
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