Phil Harrison, the corporate vice president of Microsoft, has confirmed that new console Xbox One will drop Xbox Live Arcade and Xbox Live Indie Games.
It’s no secret that some indie developers have felt poorly treated by Microsoft. In a recent interview with Wired, Jonathan Blow – of Braid fame – spoke of how his team were put through “as much pain” as they were able to endure, in order to “extract whatever (MS felt) like” that week. Retro City Rampage’s creator Brian Provinciano echoed similar distain when describing dealings with the Xbox publisher.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Phil Harrison confirmed that Xbox One will not operate XBLA or Indie Games. Instead, games will not be streamlined or forced into “discrete channels or discrete silos”. “In the past we had retail games which came on disc,” said Harrison. “We had Xbox Live Arcade and we had Indie Games, and they had their own discrete channels or discrete silos.
“With Xbox One and the new marketplace, they’re games. We don’t make a distinction between whether a game is a 50-hour RPG epic or whether it is a puzzle game or whether it is something that fits halfway between the two.”
Without a designated area for indies, there is of course a chance that indie games won’t be as well advertised; self-promotion arguably the biggest challenge indie games face – particularly if forced to compete for attention alongside triple As.
Harrison was keen to dispel this idea, however and said: “We don’t give that (advertisement) up – we don’t give up the ability to put a spotlight on the products that we think are going to be exciting to our user base, but in addition to that, what your friends are playing, what other people think is hot in your area, your country, your continent, will propagate up the most interesting and exciting games.”
Some indie developers have enjoyed pleasant relations with Microsoft, but as Sony has recently begun to remould itself as more indie friendly -and appears to garnering more respect from indie developers as a result – Microsoft must be careful not to completely isolate the medium – one it once showcased so well.