rounded up six of the precious few
standout developers of Xbox Live Indie Games
(XBLIG) to discuss the continually promising but frequently embattled
platform. Camille Guermonprez of Arkedo Studios praised XBLIG as "fast and easy to use" and Xona Games' Matthew Doucette noted that "development is essentially free in terms of fees" (just an annual $120 membership); before he warned that additional "developer and game content expenses can be massive to a start-up."
Indeed, none of these indies has struck gold -- certainly not like the top devs are finding on the App Store -- and three of the six are at least temporarily abandoning XBLIG, while the others have expanded to multiplatform development. "[To] stay only on XBLIG makes no financial sense at the moment," Doucette said.
When asked what improvements could be made to the platform, Luke Schneider of Radian Games' echoed the majority when he said that "the biggest issue is definitely Achievements" -- or lack thereof.
Microsoft spawned a culture of gamers in need of a measurable reward when it introduced the "Gamerscore," and the absence of Achievements is perhaps the greatest consumer barrier to XBLIG. Of course, as a few of the developers also pointed out, the Indie Games storefront itself is in dire need of improvement
"There is no long tail in the Xbox Live Marketplace because the product discovery tools are so weak -- a few top 10 lists and an alphabetical browse feature," lamented Deejay of Binary Tweed, whose Clover
(pictured) was met with poor launch sales
following a promising buildup. "Can you imagine Amazon without a search? Without recommendations?"
"Microsoft could fix these problems, but it's very likely that they won't be able to," he concluded. "They have ongoing relationships worth millions of dollars with publishers that far outweigh the needs of the indie development scene." But hey, at least Microsoft will do business
with you guys