Microsoft has officially begun the process of shutting down its Xbox Live Indie Games programme for the Xbox 360, as it looks to push both developers and gamers to the latest-generation Xbox One.
Launched in 2009 as a rebranding of the Xbox 360's Community Games portal, the Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) programme offered smaller developers a shot at producing games for distribution through Xbox Live. Certain restrictions were put in place: games could be no more than 150MB, raised to 500MB in 2012; pricing had to adhere to a set tiered structure; all games must provide an eight-minute trial period; and unlike games published through the Xbox Live Arcade programme, entry to which is considerably more expensive, achievements are not available. To prevent floods of shovelware, developers were also given a limit to how many titles they could have active at any given time, initially eight then raised to 20 in 2012.
By allowing developers to create games with a much smaller investment than traditional publishing methods, the XBLIG programme proved popular with both indie devs and gamers themselves. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and Microsoft has announced that XBLIG is entering a sunset period as the company looks to focus on its Xbox One successor ID@Xbox. 'XBLIG is where many great developers got their start, and “diversity” doesn’t even begin to describe the incredible variety of games that creators made on XBLIG,
' explained Microsoft's Chris Charla in the announcement
. 'So seeing the end come into view is definitely bittersweet.
From today developers are no longer able to renew their subscription nor create a new subscription, although those actively working on games will be given a one-year extension after which no new games will be eligible to be published. As a consolation prize, anyone with an active XBLIG subscription will receive a lifetime Windows Developer account. In September 2017, XBLIG itself comes to a complete close: all games will be removed from sale and the XBLIG store closed. Charla has indicated that this will not prevent gamers from redownloading titles they already own, and that 'over the next two years we’ll be working with game conservationists and creators to preserve the legacy of XBLIG content.