Is Microsoft Downplaying Indie Games?

Is Microsoft Downplaying Indie Games?


A growing number of indie developers have begun expressing concerns about Microsoft’s lack of support following the recent Xbox dashboard update. The updated interface mirrors the Microsoft’s Metro dashboard for Windows and offers an assortment of new features. However, the new version did away with the old Xbox LIVE Indie Games channel and replaced it with a simple “Indie Games” title. Some developers think that this option will go overlooked by gamers.

Additionally, the new Bing search engine is returning results that seem unrelated to the user’s search, which means that several indie games can only be found in the category view or through a very specific name search.

Nathan Fouts of Mommy’s Best Games spoke to Eurogamer about his own concerns. “There’s a revolving tile that currently also links you to Indie Games but it’s sort of random if someone will see that or even if IG will be listed there next week,” he said. “The truly disheartening news is that the ‘games’ tab on our game console is now several pages away from the start… 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.”

Obviously, from an indie developer’s perspective it seems like Microsoft is trying to downplay indie titles in favor of AAA games and streaming video content. Robert Boyd, the man behind Cthulhu Saves the World, has similar concerns: “It feels to me that Microsoft is trying to promote individual games more but hide the [XBLIG] channel as a whole. I think this will result in less sales overall, but only time will tell.”

Microsoft has released a statement responding to the developers’ concerns: “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. But they’ve got to take that next step and do marketing after the launch.” The statement added “the new Xbox 360 Dashboard update provides improved ways for consumers to find great indie titles, including the ability to search with voice”

I’m not an indie developer, but if I were, this statement probably wouldn’t put my mind at ease.

By Josh Engen

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