With November comes a new Xbox Live update featuring a brand-new Xbox 360 dashboard. With a new update and dashboard come those who don't like the change. Among those who don't like the new dashboard are game developers who feel that indie games are now hidden by Microsoft.
The new Xbox 360 dashboard moves 'Indie Games' into the 'Specialty Shops,' alongside the Avatar Marketplace and the Game Room, in a move that doesn't sit well with developers. The 'Games & Demos' section is where gamers can find Arcade Games, Games on Demand, and Game Demos. It doesn't make sense to move Indie Games out of the Games section. It has 'Games' in the title. It should be a no-brainer to include 'Indie Games' in the category that houses other games. Microsoft seemingly wanted to separate indie games from the rest of the game library.
Independent development can produce very high quality content that can take current practices to new heights and should be encouraged. Competitions like the Indie Game Challenge celebrate creativity and innovation in execution. Pushing indie games onto the back burner isn't a welcome move. Nathan Fouts of Weapon of Choice developer Mommy's Best Games expressed his anger about the new position indie games now occupy on the Xbox 360's new dashboard.
"It just.. boggles the mind. Clearly it's not based on even the simplest logic.. which is what I'd assume gamers vaguely use when scrolling through those lists. It's not like there's not enough space (there's only 3 boxes in Games and Demos.) It's a categorical failure (literally)."
"Gamer 'I'd like a game.' They go to the Games and Demos spot. And then they're done. No one will naturally think 'games' are in the specialty store."
Fouts has a valid point. That's the natural thought process of someone looking for a game on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The change may speak not only to a change in position, but a change in Microsoft's classification of independent games.
"... I'm here to mourn Indie Games being known as 'games,' which I suppose we must now rename Indie Specialties."
Reorganization can either hurt or help. Many are wondering about Microsoft's thinking and the process of deciding that this was the best move. The effect this will have remain to be seen. The managing director of Clover: A Curious Tale studio Binary Tweed agrees.
"I'd like to know the rationale behind it - at least then the community could try and come up with constructive alternatives, rather than being pushed further into obscurity."
However, the actual functionality of Indie Games has not been diminished. Top Rated and Top Downloaded lists have grown from 20 games to 50, allowing for greater exposure of more indie games. Microsoft would have gamers and developers believe that indie games will benefit from the new focus they will receive.
Is moving 'Indie Games' a good or bad thing? Are developers overreacting or justified in their opinion?