Microsoft's Xbox Live Indie Games program has few sales hits

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Microsoft wanted to give indie game developers a chance to see their creations sold on its Xbox 360 console via download but without have to go through the typical publishing hoops that are needed to get a game released on the regular Xbox Live Arcade service. The final result, launched in 2008, was called Xbox Live Community Games. The name  was later changed to Xbox Live Indie Games.

However, as reported by Ars Technica, indie game makers looking to make some money by releasing their creations via Xbox Live Indie Games have mostly been disappointed with the results. Part of the reason is the sheer number of games that are available to purchase and download on the service. As of last February there were over 1,600 games available to download and many of them are not exactly of high quality. The result is that even well reviewed games can get lost in the forest of bad game titles. One example in the article is a game called Sequence from Iridium Studios. A mix of RPG and rhythm game genres, it got solid reviews but in the end the developer has only sold 2,000 copies so far.

There are exceptions to this rule. One recent one is FortressCraft, a fairly obvious "homage" to the best selling PC game Minecraft. It sold 16,000 copies in just its first day. Another is Avater Paintball, which the story claims has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for developer DigitalDNAGames. But those kind of successes are very rare and it's unclear whether Microsoft might step in to make the Xbox Live Indie Games business more successful for its developers. In the end, making games for Xbox Live Indie Games might be a good learning experience but indie game developers should not expect to be rolling in money when they release games via the service.

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I've purchased a few Indie games from xbox live, my favorite is Beat Hazzard, a space shooter game based on the music you provide. Pretty crazy game, but there are a few pitfalls of being an indie developer on xbox live.

First and maybe the most important for me is that ALL the Indie games REQUIRE you to be online inorder to play them. When I moved house last year, I got a brought a few games off the xbox market place, some arcade titles and indie games to keep me occupied while internet would be set up in the new place. I was properly gutted to find out i couldn't play the indie games, more so beat hazzard.

Secondly, and i can see why, are lack of achivements for indie titles. I know people don't buy games (at least not everyone) for the achivements, but as part of the xbox live experiance its part of the braggin rights for completed games. Indie games have no achivements at least not ones that are linked to your XBL profile.

Lastly, the XBL indie community. Games are reviewed by other indie developers before they're published on the market place. Its really their own fault for such low quality titles being allowed on, they've effectivly dragged their own down into the slums. There is one XBL indie title that describes itself as "useless".

However, indie games do provide what most of the xbox/ps3 homebrew hackers say they want, and from what i've seen the quality of titles released on the xbox indie market place are far better then the homebrew have provided (actual games, not emulators or apps/xbmc .etc)

It is a real shame that good stuff gets lost in the noise. This is the same problem with phone apps. The certification program should really be a lot more stringent and include a qualification (by a board of players) phase measured in terms of subjective value. That should weed out most of the tinker-stinkers and and spam.

clotz2000 said,
^^ I wish the community would have a bigger/more important voice, because that's who's playing the games...

...and in this case, who's NOT playing games. Sometimes that 'important voice' is spoken in silence by the lack of downloads.

I doubt Microsoft care. They get little revenue from the cheap prices and have more profit heavy things to advertise on the dashboard. probably does a better job of highlighting the games.

They need the community to weed out the duds. Xbox Live doesn't really thrive on community unfortunately.

Like +x-byte said, there's no marketing or promotion or anything for these games, even the ones that have sold well, 1/4 of all 360 users have ever heard of them... Maybe promote the stuff on or in the dash a little better.

The problem is not avaiability, but promotion. It's better to develop for PC and promote it through the Internet.