The sentiment that Microsoft has lost its touch with Xbox Live Arcade -- and, more specifically, with independent developers -- has come up from time to time. Nothing new, at this point. It's not every day we see one of them casting the company in a positive light, which is what Max: The Curse of Brotherhood developer Press Play has done in a Eurogamer interview.
"I think people are wrong if they don't think Microsoft are looking into that, and trying to do what they can to adjust to how the market is changing," said lead designer Mikkel Thorsted. "Of course they are, and it's actually also visible if you look at XBLA -- there are free-to-play games, and there are more and more updates. It's a huge organization, and they might be slow but they're definitely heading in the right direction."
Thorsted describes Press Play as "a corporate indie studio." Despite having "a lot of resources and insights" that weren't available prior to Microsoft's acquisition of the company this year, he explained that "We're kind of expecting to navigate as an indie studio. That way we're trying to do everything ourselves to get the right promotion to get the attention out there. Right now we kind of want to take care of that ourselves. And hopefully Microsoft will help make us more visible when it gets out there."
As someone who spends most of his gaming time checking out smaller or independent studios' work and would love nothing more than platforms like XBLA to highlight the best of this scene, I really do hope Microsoft takes criticism to heart. It might require more work here and now, but bolstering a marketplace in this way would pay dividends. We'll see if the new Xbox will coincide with a shift in strategy on the digital-distribution front.