Xbox Live Indie Games has been a home for indie developers on the Xbox 360 for a number of years now but, come 2017, the service will be discontinued completely.
Word went out this week that Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) is in the process of a phased closing, with the first of those phases now in affect: You can no longer sign up for an annual subscription to XBLIG, though folks who are currently doing so may continue without restriction.
While users of XBLIG received notification of the impending closure via email, the official announcement was then later posted on the XBLIG forum. The announcement begins by thanking everyone who has had a hand in making XBLIG a success since its launch about a decade ago before explaining how the shutdown will work.
As of this past week, users can no longer sign up for an annual subscription to the XBLIG development service. For those who are unfamiliar with the service, it was an effort by Microsoft to give anyone who had a retail Xbox 360 and a PC the chance to develop games for those platform using development tools called XNA. In other words, it lowered the bar of entry for up and coming developers significantly.
Unfortunately, the XNA suite of tools were discontinued back in 2013, around the time of the launch of the Xbox One. Microsoft's new console has a similar service called [email protected] that's geared at helping indie developers get their games out the door, so it's understandable that support would come to a halt for a last gen console.
Folks who are currently using their XBLIG accounts can keep right on doing so. But as of Sept. 9, 2016, they will no longer be able to publish their games to the marketplace. A year later, the XBLIG marketplace will be totally shut down and, come November of 2017, a final payout to all partners will be made.
That's actually pretty classy of Microsoft to give folks who are still developing for XBLIG a nice heads up. They've got one more year to get their game on the marketplace, then they can sell it for another year before the marketplace closes completely. Hopefully that time and those funds can go toward creating a new project, potentially for the current Xbox One console using [email protected]
While games developed through XBLIG may not have stood up to, say, Shovel Knight, The Binging of Isaac or a little indie game called Minecraft, quite a few of them garnered a loyal following and were quite a bit of fun to play. I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1 was an early hit, along with Solar 2, Blocks That Matter and Weapon of Choice. Along with (hopefully) a return on their investment, those developers earned some first-rate experience within the industry without needing to fork over tons of cash in the process. More importantly, they found a platform where their smaller games could be seen and played, and that's a huge step up for someone who is just starting out in game development.