Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

An XBLIG Post-Mortem

Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 7, 2013

XNA – Microsoft’s game library for XBOX, Windows, and Windows Phone – is riding off into the sunset. The “XBox Live Indie Game” marketplace is probably not far behind. And now one of the most successful developers in that space has a sobering analysis of its failures:

What Went Wrong With XNA / XBLIG?

All of my information on this is secondhand, but it seems to mesh pretty well with a lot of what I heard.

One of the most stupid aspects of all was this: Your games must be approved by your competitors (effectively) to be allowed into the marketplace.

Now, compared to the mainstream “AAA” industry, indies are a pretty happy, cooperative group. And to be fair, down at the studio level, the mainstream games biz can be pretty friendly, too.¬† In the main, game developers are gamers at heart, and we play each others’ games, and we love to see the games we love be successful. And as an industry we’re constantly partnering with each other, going to work for competitors, and whatnot. So the “being approved by your competitors” thing is NOT as horrible as it sounds.

But just because it’s not so horrible in practice doesn’t excuse it for being a bad idea at its core.

There are a bunch of other problems that Thomas Steinke brings up. Some of these problems remain in Steam’s “Greenlight” system (which may not be long for this world, either…)

I have my suspicions that the next iteration of the XBox is going to far more closely resemble Apple’s app store. Although, knowing Microsoft, they’ll probably add their own special sauce of “improvements” that do little for the end-user experience but make life more miserable for developers. Just my guess. But I think overall their initial foray into indie gaming will probably be viewed as a success, so we can at least expect to have access to the system, unlike the gaming consoles of past generations.

If nothing else, this article points out how the strengths and weaknesses of indie gaming are often the same thing.


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  • Cuthalion said,

    On the plus side, that Steam article you linked is heartening. I don’t mind the objectionable-content-filtering aspect of an approval-required store, but in every other way that comes to mind, I would be happier to simply be able to wire up a game to support Steam and put it up for sale without having to wait for someone (or a crowd) to extend the golden scepter of acceptance. Would put a stop to all the, “Not on Steam? Pass,” sentiment I’ve seen regarding indie titles that had little choice in the matter.

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