Xbox Live Indie Games, the sad, unloved cousin of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade service, is no longer of this world. Microsoft has announced that it is no longer accepting signups for the service and is beginning “the sunset process” for indie self-publishing on Xbox 360. Developers still working on games will have a year to complete their projects, and in September 2017 the indie marketplace will shut down for good, along with the XNA developer website.
The closure will come as no surprise to those familiar with the service, which – despite Microsoft’s best intentions at the time – quickly became home to all sorts of shovelware and fart apps. The writing was clearly on the wall when, in 2013, development was halted on the XNA codebase that XBLIG relied on, while the Xbox One didn’t even launch with it. Even before that, it was clear that Microsoft wasn’t too thrilled with some of the software produced for XBLIG, with the company famously hiding the channel behind a generic avatar icon captioned “GAME TYPE” in 2011.
“XBLIG is where many great developers got their start, and ‘diversity’ doesn’t even describe the incredible variety of games creators have created on XBLIG,” said Microsoft’s Chris Charla, head of the current ID@Xbox program. . “Looking back, I feel that the vision of the program’s original creators has been fully proven by later events. Games are a hugely important art form and the torch of democratizing game development has continued with great tools like Unity, GameMaker and Unreal Engine.”
Although some successes would come out of XBLIG, including RPG Cthulhu saves the world and the foolish shooter Super awesome chariot adventure– it’s sad to say that the service will be remembered more for its shovelware. Who can forget classics like the hair-raising dating game Cassie’s cornerthe outrageously racist Criminals under arrestand the retina-scorching Paint-esque images of Coastal Defense.
Microsoft’s experiment with self-publishing on Xbox may not have gone according to plan, but it saw a lot of success with XBLIG’s high-profile cousin XBLA. The curated selection of games included classics such as Limbo, Super Meat Boyand Tasting HD. The replacement for both XBLIG and XBLA, the ID@Xbox program already has a nice list of games coming up, including Ark: Survival Evolvedand Cup head.