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XBox (Games) Businesses The Almighty Buck

Xbox Live Indie Games Struggle For Profitability 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
An article at the Opposable Thumbs blog examines the Xbox Live Indie Games economy, finding that developers are having trouble making enough money to justify continued work with the platform. Quoting: "If you want to publish a console video game, there's no easier route than the Xbox Live Indie Games program. But while it's relatively easy to get your game on the service, it's hard to get it noticed. There's a lot of junk on XBLIG, so much so that a group of developers banded together at the end of last year to promote quality indie titles. There have been success stories—like the recently released FortressCraft, which managed to sell 16,000 units on the day of release—but they're not exactly common. So with virtually no promotion, and with average earnings of just $3,800 per title, why do developers continue to create games for the platform? ...virtually all of the developers we spoke to are considering moving on from the platform. But all seem to view their experience as valuable, which in the end is part of the point of XBLIG: it's a place where virtually anyone can make a game that can be played on a console. Devs just need to know what they're getting into."
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Xbox Live Indie Games Struggle For Profitability

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  • Profitable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrysocolla (2314992) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:18PM (#36667734)

    The whole purpose of the Indie game scene on the Xbox Live marketplace is for aspiring game developers and students to get their games out. I think it's perfect at doing that. If you're a developer and plan to generate large sums of cash, sadly you are deluded and are not seeing the point of the Indie marketplace.

    Why? Well there are 2 parts to the picture. 1 is you get your talents known and have proof you can ship a game. 2 there is the Xbox Live Arcade. The XBLA is where you generate profits. Only developers who have proved themselves or already existing developers can create games and sell them. Their goal should be to create XBLA games not XBLIG.

    I'd guess I would profit more on ~$10 a download, over $1.

    • The whole purpose of the Indie game scene on the Xbox Live marketplace is for aspiring game developers and students to get their games out.

      Then why not do so on the PC? The only downside I can see about making PC games is, as Miguel Sternberg said in the article, "One bonus for going with a console is that we can count on everyone playing with a gamepad, something you can't count on when developing for the PC." A typical PC game needs a separate PC for each player because most people aren't willing to hook a TV and gamepads up to a PC, as I've gathered from previous discussions on Slashdot.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        Then why not do so on the PC?

        Hardware consistency, everyone is using the same system and that system runs the latest games for that platform perfectly, you can code to the limit, not the bare minimum.
        As you said, controller consistency, but also the ability to use Kinect.
        You don't have to worry about distribution because that is taken care of directly to all gold subscribers. All you need to concern yourself with is advertising.
        Payment, another thing you don't have to worry about and if you're a student doing this just to get a titl

        • You make good points. However:

          Hardware consistency, everyone is using the same system and that system runs the latest games for that platform perfectly, you can code to the limit, not the bare minimum.

          I'm under the impression that a game engine designed for the asset budget of an indie game might not even fully stress the capability of the bare minimum. A couple of the screenshots in the article were of 2D games.

          also the ability to use Kinect.

          Windows 7 officially supports the Kinect sensor, and a subset of functionality (depth field, not automatic skeleton recognition) is available with third-party user-mode Kinect sensor drivers.

          compared to having to set up your own distribution and paywall system

          Would something like osCommerce + Super Download Shop [oscommerce.com] + PayPal/Google/Amazo

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            You make good points. However:

            Hardware consistency, everyone is using the same system and that system runs the latest games for that platform perfectly, you can code to the limit, not the bare minimum.

            I'm under the impression that a game engine designed for the asset budget of an indie game might not even fully stress the capability of the bare minimum. A couple of the screenshots in the article were of 2D games.

            Assets are not the only things that are computationally expensive, there are plenty of AI, physics, shader effects, etc... that are beyond the scope of the bare minimum. And the obvious way to get around a distribution limit is to use the computational power to generate as many procedural assets as you can.

            also the ability to use Kinect.

            Windows 7 officially supports the Kinect sensor, and a subset of functionality (depth field, not automatic skeleton recognition) is available with third-party user-mode Kinect sensor drivers.

            Yes i have seen there is a BETA version of the SDK recently made available. You can do it, but it's still sold as an XBox accessory, most consumers are using kinect with an XBox anyway.

            compared to having to set up your own distribution and paywall system

            Would something like osCommerce + Super Download Shop [oscommerce.com] + PayPal/Google/Amazon payment work? Or perhaps your point is that the annual price of HTTPS hosting approaches the App Hub + Xbox Live Gold membership fee.

            Yes obviously you c

            • by tepples (727027)

              Assets are not the only things that are computationally expensive, there are plenty of AI, physics, shader effects, etc... that are beyond the scope of the bare minimum.

              How did AI and physics run on sixth-generation video game consoles such as the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube?

              by targeting XBLIG you get 90% of the PC gaming market that you are suggesting as the alternative anyway.

              I don't own an Xbox 360. As I understand it, buying an Xbox 360 just to develop for it would cost me $300 for the hardware plus $500 for five years of App Hub plus $300 for five years of Xbox Live Gold. What do I misunderstand?

              • by exomondo (1725132)

                Assets are not the only things that are computationally expensive, there are plenty of AI, physics, shader effects, etc... that are beyond the scope of the bare minimum.

                How did AI and physics run on sixth-generation video game consoles such as the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube?

                With less complexity, you think AI and physics haven't changed since then?

                by targeting XBLIG you get 90% of the PC gaming market that you are suggesting as the alternative anyway.

                I don't own an Xbox 360. As I understand it, buying an Xbox 360 just to develop for it would cost me $300 for the hardware plus $500 for five years of App Hub plus $300 for five years of Xbox Live Gold. What do I misunderstand?

                Yes, if you develop for a platform you do need to have that platform, is this news to you?
                But in any case you don't need XBL gold and you don't even need app hub until you get to platform testing.

                • by tepples (727027)

                  Yes, if you develop for a platform you do need to have that platform, is this news to you?

                  I didn't learn about Nintendo's strong stance against official home development (source: warioworld.com) until after I had already bought a Wii console instead. Now I'm stuck with a Wii that I can't officially code for.

                  But in any case you don't need XBL gold and you don't even need app hub until you get to platform testing.

                  Platform testing early and often prevents shock from seeing a 100 fps engine on the PC drop to 5 fps on the 360. And don't I need to peer review several games before submitting my own?

                  • by exomondo (1725132)

                    Yes, if you develop for a platform you do need to have that platform, is this news to you?

                    I didn't learn about Nintendo's strong stance against official home development (source: warioworld.com) until after I had already bought a Wii console instead. Now I'm stuck with a Wii that I can't officially code for.

                    So? That's got nothing to do with it whatsoever, what's your point?

                    But in any case you don't need XBL gold and you don't even need app hub until you get to platform testing.

                    Platform testing early and often prevents shock from seeing a 100 fps engine on the PC drop to 5 fps on the 360.

                    Wow...a 95% performance drop huh. If you're developing for the PC and only testing on one machine when your target audience uses thousands of different configurations then you're just as likely to run into performance, compatibility or stability issues there too.

                    And don't I need to peer review several games before submitting my own?

                    Maybe, but even then if it's taking you 5 years you're doing it wrong.

                    Anyway your arguments aren't even relevant to your initial point anymore.

                    • by tepples (727027)

                      So? That's got nothing to do with it whatsoever, what's your point?

                      My point is that my family might think it odd if I buy an Xbox 360 and a PC new enough and big enough to run XNA Game Studio but don't buy any game discs, or if I buy an Xbox 360 at all while still owning a Wii. At least one member of my family is under the impression that the majority of the income from my day job should go in an account marked "do not open until age 65".

                      even then if it's taking you 5 years you're doing it wrong.

                      I was referring to the fact that games disappear from the store when an App Hub subscription runs out.

                    • by exomondo (1725132)

                      So? That's got nothing to do with it whatsoever, what's your point?

                      My point is that my family might think it odd if I buy an Xbox 360 and a PC new enough and big enough to run XNA Game Studio but don't buy any game discs, or if I buy an Xbox 360 at all while still owning a Wii. At least one member of my family is under the impression that the majority of the income from my day job should go in an account marked "do not open until age 65".

                      So? How is the fact that your family might think it's odd in any way relevant? Are you incapable of explaining the reason to your family or are they unable to comprehend it?

                      even then if it's taking you 5 years you're doing it wrong.

                      I was referring to the fact that games disappear from the store when an App Hub subscription runs out.

                      No, you stated you need 5 years of XBL Gold, you then stated the reason why you need it is to peer review titles. I said you don't need 5 years to peer review titles.

                    • Are you incapable of explaining the reason to your family or are they unable to comprehend it?

                      They value future consumption (food and shelter during retirement) over present consumption (toys), and they sometimes have trouble understanding the difference between tools used for one's career and toys used for personal entertainment, especially when the tools (e.g. Xbox 360 console) are prominently sold to the public as toys. And they appear to view any scheme where one must pay to join a club before being able to sell products as a pyramid scam, not unlike Vector Marketing [wikipedia.org] where one must first buy a s

                    • by exomondo (1725132)

                      Are you incapable of explaining the reason to your family or are they unable to comprehend it?

                      They value future consumption (food and shelter during retirement) over present consumption (toys), and they sometimes have trouble understanding the difference between tools used for one's career and toys used for personal entertainment, especially when the tools (e.g. Xbox 360 console) are prominently sold to the public as toys.

                      Your family problems are hardly anyone elses concern and are completely irrelevant to this discussion.

                      No, you stated you need 5 years of XBL Gold, you then stated the reason why you need it is to peer review titles.

                      I mentioned peer review in the context of "and you don't even need app hub until you get to platform testing." XBL Gold would be used for testing online multiplayer features of my own games and peer-reviewing games that include online multiplayer features. And if I don't buy enough years of membership to cover the expected remaining lifetime of the platform, am I supposed to give up, withdraw my games from the XBLIG market, and go back to PC exclusivity after the 365th day of membership?

                      You renew on a yearly basis, and do so if you see it to be appropriate, just like you would with any other distribution system.

          • by protektor (63514)

            If I were an indie developer I wouldn't even bother trying to run my own e-store for my apps. You have to deal with merchant accounts, charge backs/fraud and going with Paypal isn't much better given they have frozen accounts over and over just like they did to Mindcraft, not to mention just plain seized accounts as well. Just do a web search to see all the problems with Paypal.

            If it were me I would look at something like Desura (http://www.desura.com/) where they will host and sell any game for anyone as l

      • Not so sure about that, pretty much everyone i know has a big monitor and the xbox gamepad is very popular among the pc crowd as well.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Not so sure about that, pretty much everyone i know has a big monitor

          If you post to Slashdot, then you're more likely to 1. be a geek and 2. have geeks for friends. Other Slashdot users such as CronoCloud have warned me in the past that PC monitors big enough for two to four people to fit around are way atypical. Do you want links to prior comments?

          and the xbox gamepad is very popular among the pc crowd as well.

          I know this isn't Wikipedia, but are there any news articles about use of the Xbox 360 controller among PC gamers?

          • but are there any news articles about use of the Xbox 360 controller among PC gamers?

            Not that I'm aware of, but the 360 Pad does seem to be the gamepad of choice amongst a majority PC gamers that use one, with the various Playstation-foo Dual Shocks being a strong second.

          • by protektor (63514)

            There are no articles other than people complaining that Windows games think every gamepad is an XBox 360 controller so they show those button layouts and it pain sometimes to remap, if they even allow it. So yes the XBox 360 controller is common on the PC. If I remember correctly to get a game certified Windows that you must support the XBox 360 controller on the PC as one of the interface options. Microsoft has pushed the XBox 360 controller on the PC in a big way.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Then why not do so on the PC? The only downside I can see about making PC games is [...]

        Clearly, you've never tried making a commercial quality PC game.
        - Graphics cards that report full OpenGL 2.0 but don't support repeating NPo2 (non power of 2) textures, or that don't support NPo2 at all
        - Different ways to compress a texture
        - Vastly different amounts of texture memory (netbook vs gaming rig)
        - Very different hardware speeds (1 GHz Atom netbook vs 3 GHz multicore gaming rig)
        - Differing screen sizes and aspect ratios (16:9, 16:10, 5:4, 4:3)
        - Problems running the game as administrator, or not as

        • by tepples (727027)

          Clearly, you've never tried making a commercial quality PC game.

          You are correct. I've worked on one-man projects, and I develop e-commerce software for a living, but I'm still at the stage of figuring out what would be a reasonable business plan.

          Graphics cards that report full OpenGL 2.0 but don't support repeating NPo2 (non power of 2) textures, or that don't support NPo2 at all

          I'm well aware of Po2 texture sheet requirements that have been in place since the ColecoVision.

          Vastly different amounts of texture memory (netbook vs gaming rig)

          As I wrote above, an indie game will likely have a smaller asset budget (in the monetary sense), which means less detailed assets, which means less mesh and texture data for the game to process.

          Differing screen sizes and aspect ratios (16:9, 16:10, 5:4, 4:3)

          Developing for consoles already requires

    • I would guess a $1 game may sell a lot more than a $10 game, you do have to sell 10x as many but for $1, more people will take a chance on your game.
    • Re:Profitable? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DMFNR (1986182) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:29PM (#36667796)

      Well said. The $3,800 per title average is probably a hell of a lot more than they would be getting through any other release channel, and pretty much the only official outlet for an independent developer to get their game out on a console platform. As you said, it also give them a chance to get their name out there, and just maybe, if they can produce a quality product, generate some sort of buzz around themselves so they can start to make some ACTUAL money with their talents. They still have a hell of a lot better chance of doing it there than they do with a PC game drifting in the gigantic shitstorm that is the Internet.

      What's the next obvious article Slashdot? "FOSS Developers Not Raking in Millions, Study Says?"

    • "Only developers who have proved themselves or already existing developers can create games and sell them."

      See Minecraft for counter argument. In the real world brand spanking new indie developers can make tons of money, so they should be able to make money on the Xbox just as on the PC.

    • We've found that revenues are non-linear with price. But since visibility is one of the goals, I'd rather have many downloads at a low price than few downloads at a higher price, for the same amount of revenue.

      It's not all about the benjamins -- well actually it is, but i'll take the opportunity for a barrel of benjamins later (by establishing a nameplate or title) rather than a fistful of benjamins today (by being the bestest XBLIG title evarr!!1!)

    • XBLA games are profitable? When you see most sold about 5000 copies and they retain about $2 from a copy... then where is the profit? iPhone and PCs are totally hopeless as you get released into the pool with tens of thousands competing apps/games and most users only see the top 100. Unless you are well established, multiple award winner or have some marketing strategy you will hardly see any sales.
      • by exomondo (1725132)

        XBLA games are profitable? When you see most sold about 5000 copies and they retain about $2 from a copy... then where is the profit?

        In the $10k that adds up to.

        iPhone and PCs are totally hopeless as you get released into the pool with tens of thousands competing apps/games and most users only see the top 100. Unless you are well established, multiple award winner or have some marketing strategy you will hardly see any sales.

        How is that different from anything else? Of course you need to have some kind of marketing strategy, you can't just put it out there and expect everyone to notice it.

        • by godrik (1287354)

          "In the $10k that adds up to."

          Well, $10K is about the employment cost of 2 people for one month. A game that will sell 5K copies probably needs a little more than that.

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            Well, $10K is about the employment cost of 2 people for one month. A game that will sell 5K copies probably needs a little more than that.

            XBLIG is for hobbyists, not full time devs.

    • I'd love to try a few of the indie games out. My problem is I simply can't find them when looking through the menu system. It seems there is XBLA available here in Australia but not XBLIG.
      • That's because Australia requires classification of all video games for socially objectionable elements, and the XBLIG business model cannot afford to pay the Australian Classification Board $2,040 per title [classification.gov.au]. If you want to play unrated games, you could try becoming a skilled worker [uscis.gov].
        • Thanks for clarifying that. Won't be applying anytime soon, I'd much rather live here and moving the family is not going to happen.
          • by Cimexus (1355033)

            Indeed. As a dual US-Australian citizen who spends their time living in both countries at various times of the year, I don't blame you at the moment. The US has some nice aspects to it (cheaper travel, cheap consumer goods, ability to play unrated games etc.) but the economy (unemployment rates, average wages etc.) and quality of life (number of holidays, work/life balance, crime rates, design of cities, quality of food etc.) is so much better in Australia it's not funny.

            It wasn't always that way. Used to b

  • Just because they are indi doesn't mean they don't have to do the same stuff as the big guys do to get their stuff noticed, namely, advertise.

    Yup it costs money but XBLM is NOT "The Field of Dreams" There is no "if you make it they will come"

    You want people to buy your stuff, let them know it's out there TO buy.

    • You want people to buy your stuff, let them know it's out there TO buy.

      ... and you also have to make a decent game. And set a decent price point. Advertising is just one part of the equation... you need quality and satisfaction. (Though you wouldn't know it if you've ever bought american made anything.)

    • by megrims (839585)

      You seem to be short on the letter 'e'. Here! Take some of mine:

      eeeeeeeee

  • Here in EU I can't see Indie games section on my new Xbox when logged with my new Live profile, is this a trend?
  • Well the closed system does not help I liked the old shareware systems. The high costs of DEV kits holds down the small guys. Also Xbox Live Indie Games has limits that are in place to make it hard to make a game on the level of the big guys.

    The binary distribution package must be no larger than 150 MB (dumb and makes you cut down on stuff like art, sounds and levels.

    The games are priced at 80, 240, or 400 Microsoft Points (approximately $1, 3, and 5, respectively). Games larger than 50 MB must be priced at

    • The binary distribution package must be no larger than 150 MB

      This is much bigger than WiiWare's 40 MB limit [gonintendo.com] and comparable to the biggest of big-guy games for Nintendo DS. All but 18 DS games released in the United States are 128 MB (1024 Mbit) or smaller according to Pocket Heaven's release list.

      makes you cut down on stuff like art, sounds and levels

      When .kkrieger [wikipedia.org] fits in 0.1 MB, 128 MB looks positively spacious, especially for a game without AAA production values.

      • Seriously, when people point to any of Farb-rausch's 64k demos as examples of how bloated software is, all it shows is ignorance. Don't get me wrong I -love- what they do, it is really cool "optimize for one thing" kinds of development, not to mention that many of their demos have really good music/art direction. However it is not at all feasible for general use. Never mind all the rather sever limitation on what you can do in terms of assets, have you ever looked at one of those demos when they are running

        • Seriously, when people point to any of Farb-rausch's 64k demos as examples of how bloated software is, all it shows is ignorance.

          I wasn't trying to imply that all software should adopt Farbrausch's methods straight up, only that developers crunched for space can learn a lot from those methods. If FR demos can compress things severely by procedurally making everything from scratch, others can probably compress them less severely by storing assets in low detail and enhancing them at runtime with procedural synthesis of the fine details. Think of it as being like the difference between PNG and SVG.

          none of the assets can be stored on disk to keep the size down.

          How big can saved games be on an Xbox 3

          • Again, you need to do more learning about games development. The idea of procedural synthesis of small details is something that has been brought to life, with new hardware. Modern graphics hardware supports tessellation that allows for what you suggest to a degree. Of course the Xbox does not have that so you can't really do that. You can do it with the CPU, as fr does, but then you take mass amounts of memory and have large precomputation times.

            Their methods are just not something you can apply to general

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They actually have the lowest possible cost for any supported console development option. With DreamSpark students get a free year of developer support, with free SDKs, IDEs and a good community of people who can share their experience with.

      On the other hand, you only need $100/year, which is reasonable for me.

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      The high costs of DEV kits holds down the small guys.

      Why do you need a dev kit if you're doing XBLIG?

      Also Xbox Live Indie Games has limits that are in place to make it hard to make a game on the level of the big guys.

      If you want to compete with the big guys then you wouldn't be using XBLIG for many of the same reasons they aren't using XBLIG. It also limits your choice of language, but again if you want the full flexibility and ability to compete with big studios you don't use XBLIG, that's not what it's for.

      The binary distribution package must be no larger than 150 MB (dumb and makes you cut down on stuff like art, sounds and levels.

      Well you aren't paying for distribution now are you?

      XBLIG games do not have achievements or leaderboards, nor are they listed on a player's "Gamer Card (why does this need to locked out?) at least have leaderboards.

      Because these aren't premium features. Gees all your complaints are that the cheapest, most basic entry-level way t

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        The point is its all a step backwards, the system is designed to keep the big boys raking it in and anyone else out so they don't have to compete.

        Compare to say the C64, Amiga, or even Windows... Everyone has access to the same APIs, and there are/were thriving scenes of indie games. Many great games were released for free or as shareware.

        A system like XBLIG has so many arbitrary restrictions, the whole thing is quite insulting. They restrict the languages you can use, restrict the price you can sell for, t

        • by Xest (935314)

          "The point is its all a step backwards, the system is designed to keep the big boys raking it in and anyone else out so they don't have to compete."

          Rubbish. It's designed to make sure the key areas don't get flooded with low quality crap whilst still giving low quality crap developers somewhere to publish. There are numerous examples of XBox Live Indie games that were of sufficiently high quality that Microsoft gave them the option to publish on XBox Live Arcade with all the quality games and developers usi

          • by Bert64 (520050)

            Just because a company has lots of money, doesn't mean their games will stand up to any arbitrary definition of "quality"...
            There have been countless examples of big name studios producing extremely lousy games. Some are boring to play, many hide shoddy playability behind great looking graphics, some games would be great except for a serious flaw or two that utterly ruins the experience and some games are just horrendously buggy.

            Also "quality" is entirely subjective...
            All of the console platforms are floode

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          The point is its all a step backwards, the system is designed to keep the big boys raking it in and anyone else out so they don't have to compete.

          oh bullshit, XBLIG is a way for small indie games to easily get onto the platform and you get to reach their entire audience through an official distribution channel and they even handle payment for you. And the exact same game can be distributed however you want on Windows.

          Compare to say the C64, Amiga, or even Windows... Everyone has access to the same APIs, and there are/were thriving scenes of indie games. Many great games were released for free or as shareware.

          Nothing's stopping you from using Windows...in fact they great thing about XBLIG is that the same games you write to access the console gamer market can be made available to Window users. The XBox isn't an open platform, but the software

    • by Xest (935314)

      "The high costs of DEV kits holds down the small guys. Also Xbox Live Indie Games has limits that are in place to make it hard to make a game on the level of the big guys."

      Yes, I understand, free is pretty fucking expensive. Those evil limits too, I mean, how dare Microsoft require that you need to know a bit about game development to erm, make a game.

      "XBLIG games do not have achievements or leaderboards, nor are they listed on a player's "Gamer Card (why does this need to locked out?) at least have leaderb

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:28PM (#36668212)

    ... suck. It must be said that developing games is exceedingly time consuming and cost prohibitive exercise. There's too much work that has to go into a game before you'll even get noticed. Not to mention all the great free games on sites like kongregate.

    Can your indie game compare to a free game like villainous?
    http://www.kongregate.com/games/Rete/villainous [kongregate.com]

    You'd have to be out of your mind or very skilled to develop games, and all of your team members have to be firing on all cylinders over the long haul of the games development. There's just too many people in game development with too few high quality skills.

    • by Elbereth (58257)

      Wow. I sure how that there are games better than that. The graphics are total shit, and the gameplay consists of clicking on shitting icons, then sitting there, waiting for something to happen. Exciting.

      I wouldn't even pay a single dollar for that game.

      If I had known it was some shitty flash game, I probably wouldn't have even clicked on the link, so fair warning to anyone else who has an actual gaming PC...

      • by Elbereth (58257)

        Man, there are so many typos in that post, I must need to get some slepe pretty bad.

      • The game linked to is part of a very popular game/genre called - tower defense, most indie games cannot get that kind of uptake. Tower defense type games are pretty big and widely known, most indie games never get anywhere close.

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:46PM (#36668340)

    Because it's not the norm on that platform for the developer to be necessarily profit oriented. Sure there are many who seek to make a profit, but a lot of them just like making games for the console, and selling them is merely a bonus.

  • by mentil (1748130) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @10:53PM (#36668724)

    I can say the situation isn't too good. Promotion for most of these games is non-existent on Microsoft's part. Too few games make enough in revenue to cover the money spent (usually on art/music) to produce the game, even less cover the programmer's time.

    Those that have made the highest-quality games are almost all leaving or considering leaving the platform. The biggest problem is quality: maybe 50% of games are no better than your average free Flash game; most of the rest are ok quality but highly derivative. High-quality games get no special promotion and are thrown in the New Releases list next to Breakout clones and gimmick app/games. The Indie Games area would ideally be reserved for games that are nearly Xbox Live Arcade quality but are too niche or can't fit in the extremely crowded XBLA release schedule.

    Advertising these small $1 indie games isn't tenable, as the cost for ad impressions/clickthroughs is higher than the return on one extra sale of a $1 game. Getting someone browsing the Internet on their PC to download a demo on their Xbox is difficult as well, in psychology and process.

    Of course Nintendo and Sony don't offer anything comparable (peer-reviewed indie games with no dev-kit cost or possibility of game concept rejection) so the most similar platform one can threaten to leave to is the mobile phone market, whose pitfalls have been repeated ad nauseum since the first few stories of iPhone-coder millionaires.

    The best solution to fix XBLIG is some way to promote certain games to a special 'not-crap' section that gets dashboard promotion and is more easily accessed than the rest of the stuff. Some actual competition from Sony would go a long way.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      in 1984: indie c64 game developers struggle to make profit. in 1990, indie amiga game developers struggle to make profit, in 1998 indie pc game developers struggle to make profit.. you know why? as you start making profit, you're no longer indie, and even then there's the struggle to make profit, if there isn't then there's going to be a lot of people flocking in to make games and again the situation is the same. it's just normal in the games industry. that's why when you're indie, you can just do it and se

    • In particular services like Impulse and Steam. I don't know how they select games for promotion. However they do, I've seen little indy games promoted on their front pages. If the game is good, and it is what gamers are after at a given time, it can sell really well.

      A recent example I can think of would be Terraria. Indy game in the same vein as minecraft, but old school 2D side scroller, and with more objectives to achieve. It is a Steamworks protected game so Steam only, and it has done really well. RPS f

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @12:29AM (#36669166)

    I thought the indie program was to act as an incubator and teach people XBox development. Any profit was to be icing.

    • by xhrit (915936)
      That is funny, I thought the indie program was to lock in indie studios to using microsoft only technology that cant be easily ported to nintendo or sony consoles.
  • Did anyone else get the feeling that the developers thought Microsoft should do something to promote their games. If your game isn't known, then you need to get the word out. No one is going to do it for you. Promote it. Buy an ad. I'm sorry it costs money but that's how it is for everyone.
  • Wow, I've been waiting for a Minecraft console port. Knockoff or not, that looks seriously awesome.

    On a related note, does anyone know if there is a website that specifically reviews Xbox Live indie games? I would love to keep track of the best of these, but usually the only way I hear about games like this is haphazardly (like I just did with FortressCraft in this summary). There is so much unoriginal crap on Xbox Live, I really would like a way to separate the wheat from the latest Bejeweled clone.

  • While Xbox Live itself doesn't advertise good games, becoming a Kotaku pick, which is listed in the XBLIG interface, should greatly increase visibility and likely profitability too.

  • 98% of them utterly suck. I download the "xbox indie" demos on a regular basis and 9 times out of 10 I delete the thing within 30 seconds of trying it because it is complete and utter crap.

    In fact I have bought only ONE of them, and honestly it did not have enough re playability or memorability because I cant remember what it's name is.

    The good ones are impossible to find because Microsoft does not want to put in a working rating system nor any decent showcase system.

  • I bought some, and my daughter (who isn't old enough to have an X-Box Live Account) couldn't play them. The problem is that despite their stated policies when you buy the game, they don't let people without X-Box Live accounts play them and you can't play them if your network connection is down. This is because Microsoft wants to make sure that Indie Games don't do anything naughty, so they require that you check their servers to make sure that the game hasn't been revoked before you play it. When I buy

  • Does /. really not remember this?
    It was a time when consoles were increasingly getting the attention of developers.
    Consoles that were not based on Microsoft Windows and its APIs.

    Developer mindshare is one of Microsoft's greatest assets.
    Hell, they might even have their CEO to jump around and scream on a stage like an idiot if they think it'd get any developer's attention.
    I'm serious, I wouldn't put it past them.

  • Well the Xbox Live Indie Games section isn't available in most countries. Obviously they are going to be limited.

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