It may be hard for some to remember but not so long ago there was a time when video game developers' only real option to publish was trying to work for bigger studios with deeper pockets. Nine years ago there was no app store were you could self-publish and no ubiquitous smartphone or tablets to speak of that could double as a versatile gaming device. In that sense, in 2006 when Xbox debuted the XNA’s Creator’s Club and Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) on Xbox 360, it was a big step forward for developers to gain access to publishing on a platform that would eventually sell over 80 million units.
But now, after originally debuting in August of 2006 and thousands of indie titles later, Microsoft announced that they are winding down the XNA Creator’s Club and the XBLIG on Xbox 360 programs. As of yesterday Microsoft has stopped taking new subscriptions and member renewals and by September 2017 they will stop selling Xbox Live Indie Games titles all together.
However, by no means is this Microsoft shutting the door and turning off the lights on an entire devoted community of developers and gamers. First, Microsoft is going to do the best it can to do right by the XBLIG community during this time of transition, and the continue its commitment to independent developers through its current generation console. In their announcement of closing the program, Microsoft stated
- 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.
The closing of XBLIG and the transition of developers to the newer independent developers’ program, [email protected] on Xbox One, will continue to open the doors for self-publishing developers. Hopefully, with Windows 10 making its ways to the Xbox One, and consequently the Xbox One essentially becoming a Windows machine with universal Windows 10 apps, there will be new unprecedented opportunities for the independent developer community to share their work in the marketplace with even more gamers.