Xbox Live Indie Games developers react to new dashboard, game placement

By Steve Watts, Dec 09, 2011 9:30am PST

Microsoft's placement of the Indie Games Channel has once again ruffled the feathers of indie developers, some of whom say they feel pushed aside by the recent dashboard update.

"I actually had to ask around as to where XBLIG was located because I couldn't find it when I was looking," said Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games, which developed the indie hit Cthulhu Saves The World. "If I had trouble finding XBLIG when I was actually looking for it, I can only imagine that few people are going to stumble upon it accidentally."

You need to enter the "Games" tab, then the Games Marketplace, then "Games" again amid the sub-tabs, and finally enter "Game Type" to find the option to browse Indie Games. Indie Games are currently also a cycling menu option in one of the advertising slots, but that could change at any time.

It isn't just the difficulty of finding the games that's causing consternation, though. David Johnston of Smudged Cat Games told Edge that the lack of genre browsing in the Indie section is an "unusual exclusion."

Meanwhile, Nathan Fouts of Mommy's Best Games faults hiding the Indie section behind the obscure terminology "Game Type." He says that "more intuitive" phrases could be "All Games" or "More Games," as examples. "Game Type is not a very good pick and it's the only way to get to Indie Games reliably."

On the other hand, some other changes are being praised by the indie community. They seem particularly pleased with how the Bing search includes indie games, and that the Related tab in Arcade games will sometimes point toward similar indie games as well.

Regardless, Boyd characterizes the feelings as "doom and gloom," and says that his company may move fully to PC development if they see sales drop too quickly. "But for the time being, we're planning on supporting XBLIG along with the PC and other platforms simply because it's not that much extra work for us due to the way our engine is set up."

Oddly, Microsoft has dealt with this exact problem before. When the 2010 dashboard update launched, the XBL indie community reacted with similar feelings upon being buried in the "Specialty Shops" section. Microsoft defended the move at first, but eventually relented.

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