Yesterday, developers all over the world woke up with this in their inboxes.
Starting September 9, 2015, no more paid memberships will be sold, and developers have one more year to release their games to the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace (and only through direct email contact with Microsoft). After September 9, 2016, no new games will be accepted in the store anyhow.
Finally (“around September 2017”, according to the official email) the marketplace will be closed for good; with the final payout to the Indie Games program partners taking place around November of the same year.
Debuting as “Xbox Live Community Games” way back in 2008, the program was Microsoft´s initiative for “providing an easy way for new developers to get started”. It shares its descent with that of its enabler: the XNA development framework, that allowed titles such as Quiet, Please!, FortressCraft and Super Amazing Wagon Adventure to see light on both Xbox 360 and PC.
These weren’t unexpected news – the XNA Creators Club no longer exists, and the XNA development tool is considered discontinued by Microsoft since 2013 (due to its no-longer-evolving nature).
In its place, Microsoft states that their new ID@Xbox program…
“…enables qualified game developers … unleash their creativity by self-publishing digital games on Xbox One…”
They also took the opportunity to talk about their new “Universal Windows Platform”, which will unite development for Xbox One, tables, PC and mobile devices in a single framework; and how Windows 10 will support all third-party tools.
While the idea of merging different platforms and markets in a single frame is great from a convenience standpoint, it’s important to note that the ID@Xbox page speaks nothing of a specialized marketplace for Indie games: new developers might compete for front-page space with the big dogs – and the talent it’s there, but pitting Bleed vs. Minecraft and Game of Thrones would have been insane. If we take into account the arteur movement (indie games made by professionals and their AAA-Class knowledge and skills), new Xbox One devs will have a particularly difficult road ahead of them.