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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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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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