Xbox Bids Farewell to the 360's Indie Game Program

By Kelly Packard,
Picture this: it's 2009. You have 80 Microsoft Points — yes, Microsoft Points — left on your account. What do you do?

You buy an Xbox Live Indie Game, of course!

Come the end of September, you won't be able to buy an Xbox Live Indie Game anymore. Microsoft has detailed plans to finalize the program on September 29th, with their focus shifting to Xbox One and Windows 10's ID@Xbox program.

Despite not having achievements or big-budget studios behind them, Xbox Live Indie Games, or XBLIG, made their mark on the marketplace nonetheless. Prices dipped as low as one U.S. dollar. Over 70,000 gamers contributed to rating I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1 4 1/2 stars on the store. Many a controller has been thrown over the likes of The Impossible Game. Some later received bona fide sequels, like White Noise 2. Those mentioned are only a handful of titles available on the indie store.

The Impossible Game

The XBLIG allowed developers to release their projects to a wider audience on the Xbox 360. It all sounds rudimentary now that we have huge marketplaces for mobile games, kickstarting and early access programs, but at the time, it was a struggle for developers to get a game into the hands of consumers. It helped launch ID@Xbox, the "spiritual successor" to XBLIG, which has already put out over 500 games in the three years since launch.

Microsoft's 2015 plans included the following:

  • As of today, we’ve stop taking new subscriptions or membership renewals, but we’ll ensure that current members who are still working on games have any memberships that expire “topped off” until September 9, 2016. After that date we’ll no longer allow new games to be published. All creators with a valid subscription as of today will receive a free lifetime Windows Developer account (normally $99).
  • In September 2017, we’ll stop selling XBLIG games, close the store and pay out all money earned by developers. Of course, players will still be able to re-download games they own and continue to play the games they own.
  • Longer term, over the next two years we’ll be working with game conservationists and creators to preserve the legacy of XBLIG content. We look forward to sharing more details in the future.
White NoiseWhite Noise Online

XNA Game Studio, the development software that Xbox Live Indie Games utilized, was the tech behind it all. The XNA Creators Club too will be coming to an end. The inevitable shutdown of XBLIG has been known for a while, with many developers using XNA already moving on to "Unity, Unreal and other gaming tools."

Of course, Microsoft did say they intend to "work with game conservationists and creators to preserve the legacy of XBLIG content." But with the indie game store going offline on September 29th — which means all the games will be delisted — and no word on preservation plans just yet, it would be wise to pick up any games you want before that time comes.
Kelly Packard
Written by Kelly Packard
In a few descriptors: college student, longtime gamer, writer and junk food enthusiast. I contribute to TrueAchievements as a news writer and reviewer. Usually, you can find me knee-deep in a multiplayer game while ignoring my growing backlog or on one forum or another discussing all things gaming.