I’m changing the line-up a little & going to be talking about another subject that’s dear to my heart: Xbox Live Indie Games or XBLIG for short. I’ve been a Xbox gamer since 2002 when I bought my first original Xbox. I’ve since moved on to the Xbox 360 in 2006. I was stoked when Microsoft showed off the first 7 XNA trial games at GDC 2008 that would foreshadow the Xbox Live Community Games service in November 2008.
The service has changed a little over the years: changing the price structure, adding support for avatars, party chat & video playback and a name change to Xbox Live Indies Games. Unfortunately it hasn’t fixed it’s biggest problem: lack of achievements, gamerscore & leaderboards. These features are probably why the service hasn’t been taken seriously & has lead to poor sales & public image. However, the cheap novelty & me-too games like massagers take a major toll too.
The service has been plagued with it’s biggest problems over the past year. It hasn’t really gathered enough marketing attention from Microsoft or community support for the developers & has had all kind of problems with it’s position in the storefront and freezes to the Top Downloads & New Arrivals lists. Those latter problems have been going on for 2 years & Microsoft has yet to fix the problems completely which has lead to low morale in the developer community because it directly affects sales. The problems wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that Microsoft lost it’s Community Manager last September when Kathleen Sanders moved on inside the company. Microsoft has yet to fill her spot & the developer community support has waned as Microsoft has gone mum when issues with the dashboard arose.
One would have thought that with the recent XNA MVP Summit & Game Developer Conference that new & exciting details for the service would have been announced, but both events have come & gone with no new information. Recently Gamasutra had a round-robin interview with a number of high-profile XBLIG developers on what their plans are going forward & what they think the service needs to stay alive. Interesting is that most seemed to have made the decision to leave for better platforms. Platforms that have a bigger audience & the potential for more sales. But they did pretty much all agree that the platform really needs achievements & leaderboards and something needs to be done with the marketing and the storefront.