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Why the New Xbox 360 Dashboard is Killing Indie Games - Destructoid

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I'm a woman who loves her video games. I'm also pretty much a nerd for all that is nerdy: MST3K/Riff Trax, Star Wars, Anime/Manga, Kevin Smith, X-men Comics, and of course all things video games. Someday, I would look to get paid to write for and/or about video games. I'm awesome, so it'll will probably happen.

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So now, after the new Xbox dashboard has pushed forward through all the hate, people seem to be quieting all their grumbles and life goes on as normal, right?

WRONG.

The new dashboard has completely destroyed the market for Xbox Live Indie Games. Once prominently featured in the game section, it has slowly been pushed farther and farther away from the public eye.

Do you remember this?



It seems a very long time ago that the indie (or community, or XNA games as they once were called) were featured right at the forefront of the games section. When XNA Creator's Club and the community games first were launched, it was a huge step in fostering console game innovation. A mere three days after launch there were already a reported 45 games released. I mean, wow. Developers could not wait to show the world what they could do on consoles, and now they had a wonderful vehicle to do so.

Fast forward to November 1st, 2010: the launch of The New Xbox Experience.

Microsoft takes a page out of Apple's design book and the "blades" of yesteryear and replaced with 2D content squares in a 3D space. While certainly not the "color TV phenomenon" that MS was hoping for, it did seem to make browsing the dashboard a little easier. Plus, OH BOY! AVATARS!

So what happened to the XNA Community games then? Well, let's take a look:



According to MS, Indie titles no longer have a place in the "Games" section of the Marketplace, but have now been lumped in with avatar items and music downloads in the "Specialty Shops" section. Fortunately for indie developers, lots of complaining paired with extensive media coverage prompted Microsoft to move the Indie Games back into the games section of the Marketplace.

So in the end, it was a victory for the little guy! Hooray! Let the spirit and innovation so heralded by the original launch of XNA Community Games live on!

Until....



Wait, where is that again?

Here are some directions for getting to the Xbox Live Indie Games.

Hit right bumper to get to the "games" tab (capitalization is so 2010 guys). Now to the bottom left, "Games Marketplace."

("Are we there yet Dad?" "No. And if you ask one more time, I will turn this car RIGHT AROUND.")

Choose the inexplicable photo of a girl jumping with the label "Game Type." Alternatively, you can check your reflexes trying to select the Indie Games option from the quickly revolving feature panel. Oh, there it is! The Indie games! Time to see what's hot in the community...but wait! There's still more jackassery to be had!

You can only browse Indie titles by release date. Unless you took the time to catch the Indie Games revolving panel, which offers browsing by "Kotaku's Favorites," "Contest Finalists," "Most Popular," and (here it is again) "New Releases." Why these options aren't available from the "Game Type" screen is beyond me. It's the first time I've had to play some sort of weird mini game to allow me to browse games properly.

These are not even close to how I would like to browse through any games. Two basically are "the best games...based on the opinions of a few people." Most popular and new releases are kind of useful but...what happened to "Alphabetical" and "Highest Rated?" I usually use a combination of "Highest Rated" and "Most Popular" to determine what's good.

I think it's truly a shame that Microsoft is trying to push Indie Games aside for advertising space and money. Indie Games are what truly make Xbox so unique and different from their competitors, creating a space for small-time developers to explore and show their creativity to a wide and varied audience. Remember: just because Indie Games don't have achievements, doesn't mean their any less fun or important to the gaming community.









Images sources:
Image 1: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/edunhill/archive/2007/09/03/getting-started-with-xna.aspx
Image 2: http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2010/11/03/xbox-live-indie-games/
Image 3: http://www.indiegamemag.com/satirical-shooter-game-type-mocks-microsofts-new-dashboard/
Photo Photo Photo



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