The sad situation that is Xbox Live Indie Games has been a topic I've addressed before, and its marginalized position as the red-headed stepchild of Xbox Live has been frustrating for creators and consumers alike. It looks like Microsoft is in a festive mood, considering there is a rather large update to NXE around the corner, and it looks like it has thrown a bone to all the indie kids in the XNA Creator's Club. Yeah, that's right, Indie Games is receiving a prett major update. While these changes are somewhat different from what I would expect, some of these changes could really go far to improving the service.
The most important update is a modification the the pricing structure of Indie Games. Whereas XNA developers could formerly price their games at 200, 400 or 800 points, any new games released will be priced at either 80, 240, or 400 points, with only games under 50 MB priced at 80 points. This price change is effective now, however current games will retain their original prices unless they are updated or changed during a price change event. Games can be priced to 800 points until October 22, and current 200 point games will drop automatically to 80 points then as well. October 22 is also the day that Microsoft forces all Indie Games to be developed on XNA Game Studio 3.1. For those wondering, the October 22 date, which is the same day as the release of Windows 7, is purely coincidental, as confirmed by an XNA rep.
Other major changes include the admission of Japanese and German XNA developers to the marketplace, with Japan receiving Indie Games for the first time on August 11. There is also a creator reputation system that might prove helpful in weeding out poorly developed games, and an auto-reminder for customers of Indie Games to be notified when a game has been updated. Finally, creators will be given 50 free Tokens to use for hyping their game or sending copies out to reviewers.
It's a little early to see if this is going to make a major change to the success of Indie Games. A much cheaper price, streamlined update system, and a reputation-system to make finding better developers easier is certainly helpful. Is this enough for you to pay attention to Indie Games?