Last week, Microsoft announced their official schedule for shutting down Xbox Live Indie Games, the Xbox game self-publishing service. In the first post in over two years on the XNA Development Blog (and in a slightly different email sent to current and former developers), they mention “beginning the sunsetting process”—which is confusing phrasing, considering that the XNA programming framework was discontinued two and a half years ago and that developers had barely been able to get support even before then. Maybe “finally taking the trash down to the street” would be a more accurate way to phrase Microsoft’s handling of the subject.
Either way, it’s a welcomed bit of closure for some developers on what’s been a worrying and uncertain process. We all knew it was coming eventually, but with Microsoft’s lack of official plans, it seemed like the service was just going to die, sad and alone, whenever Xbox 360 services shut down. The key points we can take away from this announcement, made at 8pm EST on September 9th to give us plenty of warning for the September 9th effective date, include:
- Developers can no longer renew their accounts or create new accounts
- Developers with existing accounts can continue publishing their games until this time next year
- Microsoft is working to “preserve the legacy of XBLIG content”, whatever that means
- “Around” September of 2017, users will no longer be able to purchase XBLIG games
- “Around” November of 2017, developers will receive their final payments, whether they met the $150 threshold or not
- “Around” 2017, Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese will stop Skynet and prevent Judgement Day
- The XNA Creators website will be taken down January 1st, 2018
Most of that seems pretty reasonable. There’s finally a path for developers to get the $149.99 sitting in their accounts as people stop buying XBLIG games. We’ll see what “preserving the legacy of XBLIG content” turns out to be, but that’s potentially good news for the owners of XBLIG games who might be concerned that favorites like Don’t Die Dateless Dummy might disappear forever in the
robot apocalypse XNA shutdown. ID@Xbox (aka XBLIG 2.0) also looks slightly more promising now that it’s no longer the “big kids only” closed program it was at launch—especially when you can release games for Windows 10, Windows Phone, and Xbone all in one. Slightly more promising, anyway.
In the end, it’s kind of sad to see it finally go, but at least we’re given a schedule and a conclusion instead of just sitting here wondering what’s going to happen. It was a cool idea, and it was fun while it lasted, but it seems that the world has moved on to the App Store and Steam (and, maybe itch.io) for their indie game needs.