Development Blog 5 - The Beginning of the End for XBLIG
Microsoft have confirmed in the last week that they're finally saying goodbye to Xbox Live Indie Games on the Xbox 360. Support for the service has somewhat dwindled over the past few years, not least due to the release of the Xbox One and the new ID@Xbox development program. XBLIG will be accepting new game submissions until September 2016, after which it will finally close its doors in September 2017, although we have already announced that we won't be developing any more XBLIGs. To mark the end of an era, and because XBLIG was such an important part of our development during the early days, we thought we'd share with you a few facts, figures and interesting bits of info about our XBLIG journey...
Our XBLIG Journey...
Our First XBLIG Game was On A Roll for 240 Microsoft Points (later reduced to 80 Microsoft Points), released 21st September 2009.

Our Last XBLIG Game was Micromazes for 80 Microsoft Points, released 26th October 2013.

Our Most Successful XBLIG was Avatar Grand Prix 2, which accounted for almost 50% of all game sales. The two Avatar Grand Prix games together have accounted for 70% of all game sales.

We released a total of 10 XBLIGs.
Our first game, On A Roll, was released in September 2009 although development (and learning XNA, the programming language that XBLIGs are written in) for the game started in March 2009. The game was very much a learning process and we made a number of mistakes, not least making the game too hard and the price too high. But it was our first game and we were excited that it had even sold a single copy! Our next game was Planet Pinball, a rather unique pinball simulator which people seemed to either love or hate!
Our XBLIG Retro Influences...
On A Roll/On A Roll 3D - Sonic The Hedgehog (Sega, 1991)

Planet Pinball - Pinball Fantasies (Digital Illusions, 1992)

Earth Shaker - originally Released for ZX Spectrum (Michael Batty, 1991)

Avatar Grand Prix/Avatar Grand Prix 2 - Mario Kart (Nintendo, 1992)

The Wizards Who Fell In A Hole - Bubble Bobble (Taito, 1986)

Minigame Marathon - Warioware (Nintendo, 2003)
Our third game was Earth Shaker, a game originally released for the ZX Spectrum. We worked with the game's original author, Michael Batty during development and being able to resurrect a classic retro game still rates as one of our highest achievements. The community didn't necessarily agree though, and Earth Shaker didn't sell many copies. We put that one down to experience and the fact that it wasn't 1991 any more :)
Next came our first real success - Avatar Grand Prix. It was our first multiplayer game and our first to use the Xbox 360 avatars. It went down well, and to date is our second best-selling game, behind only its sequel in terms of sales. The quirky The Wizards Who Fell In A Hole was next, a slightly silly but rather fun platformer that was made entirely out of plasticine!
We ventured into the slightly more serious territory of a story-based role-playing game in Blackstone Part I after that, a game that gained quite a cult following. Sadly the sales didn't quite match the effort we put in, so parts two and three may never be made. Next up came our finest moment to date - Avatar Grand Prix 2. A combination of local and online multiplayer, its use of avatars and the fact that it was just a really fun racing game has made it our best-selling game to date.
Minigame Marathon was next, a game loved for its local multiplayer, then came one of our largest games to date: On A Roll 3D which was the sequel to On A Roll and our first non-XBLIG release when it came out for PC in 2013. Our final XBLIG was Micromazes, a multiplayer maze game that involved players playing together to solve puzzles.
So were XBLIGs a free-for-all platform that was ruined by non-developers releasing non-games just to make easy money? Or was it a fantastic chance for passionate indie developers to get their games on a mainstream console? Our humble opinion is quite definitely the latter. And although we'll be sad to see XBLIG disappear, maybe it's the right time for them to go. We for one can't thank Microsoft and Xbox enough for the opportunity.
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