Just… very… very… slowly
Xbox Live Indie Games, the program that allowed people to make and sell their own games through Xbox Live, is in the process of what is possibly the slowest shutting down I have ever seen.
An email sent out to developers on the platform explained how the closure is happening, with the final point of death being when the marketplace closes in September 2017. There’s also the usual Microsoft PR spiel about signing up for Xbox One’s Indie program, [email protected]:
Thank you so much for your partnership and interest in creating and releasing Independent Games onto the Xbox 360 platform.
Making sure independent developers have a great way to get their content onto Microsoft platforms, and providing an easy way for new developers to get started was the core goal of the XNA Creators Club, the XNA Game Studio framework and Xbox Live Indie Games
Today, we are announcing that we are beginning to sunset the XNA Creators Club and Xbox Live Indie Games program on Xbox 360.
Of course, enabling creators remains a core goal of Microsoft. As we move forward, we are excited to showcase the new Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform that enables independent developers to self-publish and release on multiple platforms such as PC, tablets, Xbox One and mobile devices. Third-party tools such as Unity, Unreal Engine, and GameMaker provide a great way for new developers to get started, and all are supported on Microsoft devices with Windows 10…
… With these programs in place and offering a great way forward for development on Windows 10 and Xbox One, we are retiring Xbox Live Indie Games on Xbox 360 on the following schedule (the dates below are estimates and may change slightly):
September 9th, 2015: Users will no longer be able to purchase an annual membership subscription. Any creators who would like to continue active development after September 9th can contact [email protected] for free tokens to enable development until September 9th, 2016.
- After September 9th, 2016: Creators will no longer be able to publish their titles to marketplace.
- Around September, 2017: The Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace will be closed.
- Around November, 2017: We will make a final payout to all partners regardless of whether or not they meet the $150 minimum threshold.
We will have support in place for any questions that may arise until 12/31/2017. After that, the XNA Creators website will be taken down.
If there are any questions or concerns about the XBLIG program end, please contact [email protected].
We want to thank our XBLIG Partners by offering a free token to redeem for a membership to the Windows 10 Developer program. Please email [email protected] with your full name and XBLIG account ID and we’ll send you a token.
XBLIG Support Team
XBLIG launched way back in 2006. Marketed as an opened-up version of the Xbox Live Arcade, the big draw (as explained in a forum post announcing the closure) was that games could be developed using more widely known coding languages. This allowed more people to make and sell games on consoles than previously.
XBLIG also kickstarted the careers of some pretty well-known developers. Zeboyd Games originally released Cthulhu Saves the World on it, as was the original version of the recently released Shutshimi by Neon Deity Games. Dean Dodrill of Dust: An Elysian Tail fame was also active in helping other developers on the platform.
While the closure is an incredibly slow one, the response from the community who still use the service has been huge. Developer Michael Ventnor told me Microsoft is shuttering a close-knit community in the XBLIG program:
We always felt we were a community. There wasn’t a gatekeeper, instead we reviewed each other’s’ games before they were released on the store. We helped each other out on the forums. Dean Dodrill (“Dust: An Elysian Tail”) helped create a boxart for one of my titles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a sense of community in any other platform.
XBLIG gave a lot of first-time developers their chance for a big breakthrough. A lot of titles and developers began on XBLIG, and despite any technical or discoverability issues the service may have had, despite the frustrations, despite the low audience, it was still something special that we’re unlikely to see again as the industry gets bigger and bigger.
Whether developers port their games to newer systems is up to them, but a positive is that Microsoft will be working with game conservationists to “preserve the legacy of XBLIG content”… whatever that means.
See ya, XBLIG. You had some great games, you had some shit games, but people loved you nonetheless.