We're big fans of XBLIG and reckon that the vast majority can agree that it's A Good Thing...well, apart from Microsoft, it seems, who've gone and buried the Indie Games section in the new Dashboard update, something that several indie developers are a rather less than pleased about.
Mommy's Best Games boss Nathan Fouts, he of Explosionade and Serious Sam: Double D fame, told Eurogamer he was happy with the new search functionality and "Related" tab, but said the dedicated Indie Games portal is "now more hidden and confusing than ever".
"For me the truly disheartening news is that the 'games' tab on our game console is now several pages away from the start," Fouts continued. "'Videos' is now before 'games'. For better or worse, the new Metro layout is an advertiser's dream. Every single page main page now has an advertisement on it (you can't scroll away any more), there are dozens of secret little places to feature things, and it's easy to get lost. But simply getting to the main portal for Arcade, Games on Demand or Indie Games, or for that matter my own game library is a chore. I like the 'quick list' but if it would have a simple connection to my complete library, it would be a huge help."
Brett Eveleigh, the man behind Avatar Battle Bees, suggested that Microsoft knew they'd gone about things wrong, and we're now simply trying to sweep things under the carpet: "Microsoft take a back-seat approach and only really gets involved to take a cut of your sales and make the games slightly harder to find with each new dashboard update," he explained. "Not that anyone wants to go through the pain of retail/arcade style certification but it feels like Microsoft has abandoned the platform in favour of Windows Phone 7. But instead of admitting it they're brushing it under the carpet and hoping it'll go away."
He's not the only irked indie dev either, with plenty of others chipping in over on the Microsoft forums.
“Everyone knows the top downloads list is where the good money was made, if you landed high enough you could have sales for a few weeks if not months,” said Monster Talk creator Neil Jones. “If people can’t get to this list easily then things don't look good. Even if your game gets top rated it won’t help that much if it takes the user 16 plus button presses to find the indie game top rated list.”
One of the developers from Pouncing Kitten Games stated “This is just a giant F-U to all of us. There is simply no other way to put it. Put 2000 plus games in a single list and give less than a half dozen filtering options, not including genre? Good call. Whoever made that decision should be fired immediately.”
However, it's not everyone who's upset. Yet Another Zombie Defense outfit Awesome Games added: “Overall I think it's good - there are much more ways to reach Indie Games than before the update and there are two significant improvements to ratings usability. However, we'll have to wait to find out how is it going to impact our sales numbers. We're certainly not first class citizens, but honestly I never expected Indie Games to be treated the same way as Arcades.”
Microsoft XNA/XBLIG team member Nick Gravelyn did say that "the 'Indie Games' tile you see in the 'game marketplace' rotating carousel was added intentionally to boost exposure for Indie Games on Xbox LIVE Marketplace. While the dashboard is always improving, this tile is here to stay for the foreseeable future."
So that's something. Sigh.