Year Two of theXBLIG

Man, has it been another year already!? Time flies when you’re writing indie game reviews, I guess. Don’t worry, I’ll keep this one short. Don’t want to pat myself on the back too much, just enough to keep my ego properly inflated.

Two years online… Wow. I do remember last time I did this, I was worried the site might not even make it two years, between the rumblings of XBLIG’s demise (only somewhat exaggerated) and the looming releases of the next-gen consoles. Well, that worry was for naught; the site still stands! That said, we sure limped into this second birthday celebration, as the new releases have pretty much dried up. XBLIG seems destined for a slow, depressing death.

There’s no point in glossing over the reality of a situation. While Xbox One is picking up steam, and indie gaming has started taking hold there (with the ID@Xbox program), the Xbox 360 has not been as fortunate. New releases have slackened off on Xbox Live Indie Games in the past few months. It’s sad to see. I can’t write that the service still has its best days ahead of it, as that would be a lie even I can’t force myself to believe.

What I can say is that the community itself— people like You, reading this— is still going remarkably strong. Proof is in the numbers, really, as this site has had a fantastic run since last June. As of today, we’ve surpassed 214,000 views, posted 318 articles / reviews, and seen 3,500 comments on those posts. Granted, that’s not the most impressive showing for a website, but for one dedicated to a fading indie service, with games that are often criticized (yes, by me too) for being childish and loaded with boobs, it’s not too shabby.

I owe a great debt to this community, my fellow gaming journalists / writers, all the great XBLIG developers, and, of course, you guys. It may sound cheap, and more than a little cheesy, but it’s the honest truth. While I’d still be playing indie games otherwise, there’d be no point in running this website if it wasn’t for all of you. So thank you, all, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being involved in this wonderful madness known as theXBLIG.

Year Three begins today!

42 thoughts on “Year Two of theXBLIG”

  1. Congrats on two years! Not many XBLIG sites have made it that long and stayed true to reviewing only XBLIG. As a small time developer, I really appreciate sites like this as an outlet to get the word out about our games.
    Honestly, I would still be making XBLIG games if it wasn’t for the limitations on the technology. After spending a year with Unity3D, it’s really hard to go back and program something using XNA. Especially since XNA only supports two platforms, which are Windows and the XBox 360. Hopefully they will eventually open the XBox One to more than just the limited number hand picked developers.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you! I started the site for that very reason (covering games no one else wanted to / didn’t know about), and you could say I was slightly crazy to stick solely to my XBLIG guns, but I think it’s worked out well for everyone so far. This next year will be challenging to keep it afloat, as like you said, other options look more feasible. Releases have really dropped out in the last few months. My belief is that Xbox One will eventually open up to the little little guys, but when that will happen is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging along. 🙂

  2. Congratulations from France, yep ! I am very surprised to see a website only focusing on Xblig. But it’s a good job and someone has to dot it. Xblig game developpers shoud thank you a lot. They seem to be forgotten by casual gamers. Xbox-One and Pc mini-games will not improve that. And yet, developping indie game is so long for few recognition. Thanks and good luck !

    1. Thanks! 🙂 And yeah, I suppose I have that in common with the developers; we are both working in a field that doesn’t get much recognition. Although developers work far harder than I do. Here’s to hoping the indie service still has a few surprises left.

  3. Thought I’d take a quick break from watching 3 games of footb…erm soccer a day, to wish you a happy 2nd birthday! I remember first coming across your work over at gearfish, back when I was desperately trying to find sites that covered the Indie Channel. And, later on, when you announced that you would be launching a site that was exclusively dedicated to XBLIGs, I was really pleased to hear it. Over the past couple of years, you’ve kept me informed, entertained, and have helped guide me to the “good stuff”, and for that I am extremely thankful. I will continue to check this site daily as, even when there is no new review to read, I always enjoy the comments section (you’ve got a great little community going here), and have already started checking indiepitome regularly, so I’m still looking forward to what the next year shall bring. Congratulations!!!

    1. Thank you!

      Yeah, all is forgiven when the World Cup is going. Even the U.S. gets in on it, and our country isn’t exactly ‘rabid’ when it comes to soccer.. er.. football… er… you know what I mean. 😉

      You’ve been an original reader, sir, back from those humble Gear-Fish beginnings. I thank you immensely for that! Really odd to think back on that and see how much things have changed in the span of just a few years. That’s life, I guess. Awesome to see that you’ve stuck around through all of it. This ‘community’ has really been what’s kept me going, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings either. 🙂

    1. Thanks, man! Nah, I don’t need any fancy awards. A bag of money? I could take that. 🙂

      All kidding aside, it’s really great that you guys continue to come here and read what I put out. That means more to me than any award ever could.

  4. Congratulations, yours is the best XBLIG review site on the internets IMHO. You just tell it how it is. I always come here for an “everyman” review (ie. how it is). Here’s to another year 😉

    1. Thanks! Glad to give you guys the straight answer, and help out developers by giving them a review and / or (hopefully) constructive criticism. May be one of the few sites left that cover XBLIG, but that still means a lot. 🙂

  5. All thx to us? Why thank you are such a flirt.

    You know lad, mainting a site about XBLIG site instead of an XBLA or AAA is like being a stripper. Ppl will say to you, you are wasting your time, you can do something better or boobs will not get you nowwhere. But ppl dont know that the best pornstar began as strippers and implants are used to transport drugs to differents country in the world, and also boobs make endure this two year journey on the site.Yes ppl say bad things about the indies, but there’s is always clientele for them, and I’m glad that you are the few ones that touches them, so we can know if that dollar worth it, or if you are better wasting in a value menu or in a 1o seconds lap dance. I hope indiepitome keeps the tradition (finding that site is more difficult than the Getaways puzzles, ha, Bazinga!!!) and the humour. Congrats boyo and thx for showing us the true value of a hundred cents.

    1. You’re welcome! I never make the smartest decisions in life, but I don’t regret the choice to focus on XBLIG. In a way, being one of the few people that DO cover these games has helped. It puts me near the top of any Google search for XBLIG / games, which has brought in plenty of people that might not otherwise know about the site.

      Indiepitome, on the other hand, is harder to find (like you said 😀 ), because it covers more games across more systems. Even so, I hope to continue the same style of coverage there, and give you guys the simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ verdict as best I can. 🙂

  6. Congratulations Mr. Hurley.
    Its been quite a rollercoaster.
    But we still have DoTR to look to. Amd maybe a few suprises. (Dinosaurs?)
    XBLIG: Don’t be silly laddy!
    Saansilt: Why are talking like a pirate?
    XBLIG: Methinks I like it.

    1. Them dinosaurs have to show up eventually, methinks. Zombies lose their allure, you run out of human-type enemies, dinosaurs are the next logical choice… well, behind aliens. They’re always popular.

      Sadly (and this hurts me to write it), I don’t think Dawn of the Ronin is coming to XBLIG anymore. The developer recently put up a new website, and there’s no mention of an XBLIG release. Just PC (and Steam, where the game was greenlit). I can’t blame him for that. He’ll make more money in the first week on Steam than he ever would have on XBLIG. Actually, I hope Sony or Microsoft gets interested in the game, and we see it come to the PS4 or One. That’d be awesome.

    2. First off- congrats Tim! Wish you many more years of reviews!

      As for Dawn of the Ronin, the lack of sales for XBLIG’s and the great reception the game received on Greenlight means an xbox version is very low priority, although not completely ruled out – I’d like to get it infront of as many people as possible!

      I’ll be sure to keep you all informed in the future =)

    3. Thank you, sir! Always look forward to new updates on the game. And yeah, please don’t take that as any kind of obligation to release the game on XBLIG. I completely understand the thought behind it, as we’ve all been seeing the steady decline in the service (these last few months have been particularly harsh). I’d much rather see your hard work pay off monetarily— and get the notoriety— that Steam would bring in.

      After that, and if you’ve got the time and the resources to do so, XBLIG will still be here. Or any console, really. I can’t see why any of the big three wouldn’t want a uniquely-gorgeous indie game on their console. 🙂

  7. Congratulatons TheXBLIG! May there be several more years of reviews to look forward to, as I figure there aren’t going to be too many $1 games put out on Xbox One. ; ) Lots of indies will come out, but I think the days of cheap console gaming might be toast. Perhaps that is just the required trade-off for Microsoft to adequately support their indie service on the new console … which I can live with.

    1. Thanks you, kind sir! And you’re probably right. This new interest in indie games means some additional oversight, as NVO Games mentioned previously, but also higher costs. $15 seems to be the going rate so far, with some games asking even higher. I’m fine with it, too, but yeah, there’s no way I could afford to buy them all. 🙂

      Then again (and I know I sound like a broken record saying this), once the ID@Xbox program opens up to all, we could see $1 games again. That might mean a dip in content (and quality, perhaps), but if they allow developers to set their own prices, it could be back. Developers could finally charge more, even, as the ‘$15 norm’ would make a $5 game seem much more attractive. We’ll see.

  8. Happy B’day Tim, thanks for the reviews and the odd freebie. Its always a shame when a platform enters its twilight years, Ive been through this too many times (sob!).

    I can only hope that, as so often happens, a few gems get released just before the life support plug is pulled. After all, there’s still new releases coming out for the Commodore 64!

    1. Thank you, sir! It’s funny how there’s always the odd release for older platforms like the C64, Dreamcast, etc. A lot of them can be quality stuff, too. If Microsoft wasn’t going to pull the plug on XBLIG and the creator’s club at some point, we probably would see two or three games released even years from now. Millions of people own 360s, of course, so it’s not like the system will be abandoned anytime soon. Granted, it wouldn’t be much of a money-maker, but an XBLIG coming out in 2020? Wouldn’t be entirely out of the question.

  9. Although I just started commenting in early March this year, I’m technically around for much longer. I discovered this site sometime in early 2013 and stuck around since then, hiding in the shadows. Always liked the style of the reviews, and the fact that there’s no stupid point system (or worse, percentage). And the community here might be small, but 1000 times better than those of big review sites with their constant trolling and hating. The people on here are actually one of the reasons I started to write comments on theXBLIG.

    And don’t forget that those 214,000 views are from people who visited your site, and don’t include the ones who use the WordPress Reader. The real number of views might be even higher.

    So Happy Birthday theXBLIG, hope you make it for another year! Even changed my avatar for that special occasion and put him in a suit, and he had a shave (sort of).

    1. Ah, so you were a creeper that whole time? Thought I felt a presence hovering over my digital shoulder, haunting the posts. 😛

      Not having a scoring system was something I felt strongly about. I wanted people to read the actual review, instead of skimming over stuff and just looking for a final number. I don’t mind the idea of a scoring system, actually, it just invites trouble. For instance, how do you differentiate between two games that score an ‘8’, or ‘80%’? Both sound like good games, but it’s better to lay out everything and let the person reading it decide, instead of using a set system to measure worth.

      Oh, and I do want to thank your avatar for dressing up. It’s a strictly casual dress code we’ve got here, but I appreciate the upper class vibe it brings. The shades are a nice, rebellious touch. 🙂

    1. Thanks, man. We’ll make it to Three, I’m sure. Might be a little slow around here by then, but I’ll be around.

      I like this video better than the ‘dude’ from last year’s post. Less creepy (well, slightly), and the song is catchier. 😀

  10. Congrats on two years Tim! Your reviews have always been fair AND funny. Plus your comment section has always been the best of all the indie review websites (IMO).

    I will truely miss the XBLIG channel, but like mike1976 said, you can’t blame people for leaving a dead marketplace.

    On to with us all!

  11. Oh, and this wouldn’t be much of a Site Birthday post if I didn’t have something to give away, so thanks to NVO Games, I have THREE additional codes for STRACO: Purge and Conquest (reviewed yesterday), and FOUR codes for the original release STRACO: Episode One.

    If you’d like a code, for one game or the other, or both games, simply reply to this comment, and you shall have it.

    1. Hi Tim.
      Congrats to you for two years
      I would be very happy to get codes for The Straco games.

    2. Still have any codes for the Purge and Conquest? It is for my kids that DON’T SLEEP LONG ENOUGH EACH NIGHT AND ALWAYS WAKE ME AT 6 AM. Lesson: don’t have kids if you like to game or sleep. They are, however, very useful for tax deduction purposes.

    3. Haha. Always the flipside of the coin. Expensive endeavors, those kiddies. And I’m laughing with you, not at you. 🙂

      I’ve got some codes left for P & C. I will send one your way in a few.

      EDIT: I’ve got ONE code for Episode 1 left, so if anyone’s interested, drop me a line.

  12. Don’t blame developers for leaving the channel, blame users instead. From what I hear downloads & sales figures dropped massively at the end of last year (after MS Points were phased out), and have only been going down since.

    So if the market is not profitable anymore, developers have to look elsewhere.

    1. Yeah, it’s hard to blame them. It’s a hobby for some, sure, but it’s a business for others. You always have to go where the money is. That’s easy Math, and I certainly can’t hold it against them (as much as I’d like to see worthwhile new releases). Hopefully developers can find a niche on PC somewhere, or get in on the love that Sony and Microsoft are currently showing Indies on their new systems. Ride out that Honeymoon as long as you can. 🙂

  13. Congratulations, Tim. Don’t undersell your numbers. As life’s responsibilities take more and more of a firm hold, it’s incredibly difficult to keep up a consistent pace of producing quality content, interacting with readers, and marketing. As a married man and soon-to-be father, the amount of available time to invest in such an endeavour has dwindled for me. I’m glad to see that your articles keep flying out the door. Kudos to you for continuing to fight the good fight.

    I am curious, though, about Year Three and what your plans are for the site. Will we see a rebranding?

    1. Thank you, as always, Brandon. And congrats on impending Fatherhood! It would be tough, I think, to balance raising a kid (among other life responsibilities) and running a site, but of course ‘family’ and real-life commitments have to come first. I wish you luck! I don’t seem destined for any of that stuff myself, but it’s going to be a fun time for you. A challenge, but fun. 🙂

      If I had to look into my crystal ball and see ‘the Future’, I’d imagine Year Three will be a really slow one for ‘theXBLIG’. Releases will get fewer, readership will drop off, etc. I don’t intend to quit the site, so long as there are some bright spots to write about and share.

      Don’t think there will be a re-branding. I started this site to focus on XBLIGs, and I want to remain true to that commitment. However, I did create a second site in March, called Indiepitome. That one will cover indie games across all the consoles / handhelds (minus OUYA), and I’ve double-posted some reviews for XBLIGs there as well. If things stay slow here, I can always pick up work there. I’ll have to see how things go, but I don’t think I’ll ever be without review work, if I want it. 🙂

    2. @Brandon: Congrats on the baby! As a recent father of two, I can honestly say that they eat up your spare time like nothing else! They are totally worth it, but non-job related activities become very hard to make time for. Not that there’s NO free time. In the first year or so, they sleep about 16 hours a day!

      @Tim: Don’t count yourself out! I didn’t even have a DATE until I was 34, now I’m 39, married and have two kids (2.5 years and 12 months)! Though I definitely thought that it would never happen when I was 34. Like NEVER happen EVER. Life is funny like that.

      OK, enough about kids already! 😉

    3. Bah! Kids, videogames; it’s all related. Somehow.

      @NVO: Congrats to you, too, Mike! (even if it’s a little belated) 🙂

      Life is funny like that, so I wouldn’t ever label it as impossible. I’ve never really felt the drive to get married and start a family (past relationships haven’t helped, either), but you never know. My brother has a kid on the way soon, too, so maybe by becoming an uncle, that’ll light some kind of fire in my Neanderthal brain that I’ve got to get a move on things.

      I can vouch for the ‘sleeping’, though. I saw my cousin’s kid maybe three times the first year of her life. Kid loved to sleep, and was cranky as hell if you woke her up early. You might have more free time than you think, Brandon!

    4. Thanks Tim!

      On a side note: I can’t wait for my kids to be able to play video games! They are both already interested in the controllers, they just can’t do too much with them yet 😛

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