Thanks For Everything, XBLIG!

Today marks the end of an era. Today is the day we say goodbye to Xbox Live Indie Games. In a certain sense of the word (see below for an update!).

Today is the last day to purchase any XBLIGs on the marketplace. After that, you can still download and / or play any game that you own.Β For now. What happens beyond that, and when the Xbox 360 itself is retired, is still up in the air, though there is plenty of promising stuff happening on the preservation front.

Of course, all of this has been known for some time. Two years, in fact. And for about a year before that, general interest in the service and its games had fallen off considerably. Many developers have long since moved on to other endeavors, and many of us that used to play the games and new releases quasi-religiously have also done the same. Still, it’s important to note this date in your own personal history calendar and remember an indie game service that was instrumental in paving the way for all the indie games we currently enjoy. It will not be forgotten.

This site (not a blog!) here played a small role by reviewing a portion of those indie games, covering some the greatest successes on the marketplace, and, unfortunately, some of the worst of the worst on the service (read: the other 70% of the reviews posted here; I’m only partially kidding when I say that). More importantly, though, it became something other than just a review site; it became a gathering place for gamers excited about indie games, a small corner of the internet some came to talk about them, to share their own thoughts, and to hang out and chat with others. Real friends were made here. And that, even more than the games themselves, is what I’ll remember.

So, personal review opinions (and a few tears) aside, I want this to be my final ‘Thank You’ to XBLIG in general, and to all the developers, gamers, and readers (that’d be you reading this) who made all of this possible. I won’t forget that, I can’tΒ ever forget that, and I hope you enjoyed this place as much as I did.

With Love,

Tim


UPDATE (9/29): Well, so much for an emotional article and fond farewell! Today is not the end, it seems, as the official shutdown date has been pushed back to October 7th. So… yeah, it’s still sad, just not for another week. Save all your emotions and tears for that date, and go ahead and check out some more games! πŸ˜‰

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39 thoughts on “Thanks For Everything, XBLIG!”

  1. So, did anyone else decide to pick up some games at the last minute? (I might be the last person around here with a working 360, though) I picked up a few that aren’t apparently available on any other console/pc: Commander: First World, Protect Me Knight, Vizati, and Alien Jelly. It was rather humorous, when scrolling through all the available games, to see how dated the games were. There was one about Dick Cheney, one about Barack Obama, and several based upon long-forgotten memes. XBLIG was certainly a grand experiment like no other.

    1. Hey, I got a working 360! It runs a little ancient these days, but it works, ha. While I didn’t buy anything else, I did re-download some of the games that are on my— and others’— leaderboards, just in case ‘something’ mysteriously ‘happens’ to knock out the ability to download games I already owned. Just in case. I say this because if something were to happen, there’s probably zero chance that it would ever be fixed. Either way, I’m protected, at least until the 360 itself is sunsetted.

    2. The sobering truth is that my 360 boots and loads up MUCH faster than my Xbox One. For all of the promise of the One – and the instant-on has made access to apps, although not their loading, faster – it seems the same bottlenecks have been reached regardless of processing power: as bandwidth increases so too does size and complexity of tasks! I also fear that if ‘something’ goes wrong with the 360’s XBLIG store/download ability Microsoft very well may not fix it. I downloaded all the indie games I own as a safeguard.

    3. Man, that’s funny. Sad, but kinda funny. πŸ™‚ The One is anything but fast to boot (the PS4 wins easily there), although it’s still much better than my 360. It runs fine, don’t get me wrong, but I think it might be the amount of XBLIGs on there that slows it down. Just booting it up the other day took a good five minutes from when I turned it on to when I could actually navigate the menus and get to the games.

    4. I picked up Hartacon Tactics and Johnny Carnage yesterday. The Indie section on the 360 was acting very strangely. If I browsed for games by letter of the alphabet, there would only be 1 or 2 titles listed (sometimes none at all), but if I browsed by genre they all still seemed to be there. It made finding the games I wanted pretty time consuming!
      Man, I really am going to miss the XBLIGs.

    5. Ah, then it wasn’t just me that had the issues. My Xbox is slow in general, so I never knew if it was just the amount of games I had or the marketplace itself. Seems it’s a bit of both. Won’t matter anymore, of course, but it does seem a lot better browsing the Creator’s Club stuff on the One. For now, anyway. Once more games show up, I might start running into the same issues.

      Still, it will be missed. The good and the bad.

  2. Nice sendoff article, Tim. I think your site had fair reviews, while keeping the spotlight on what was important (the games). I’ve recently published my first game on the XBox One Creator’s Collection, which was the cat maze game that I developed in Unity back in 2016. I think the Creator’s Program is the closest that we are going to get to another XBLIG, but I think it is much better because we developers aren’t limited by the constraints of XNA. There’s already a new Dream.Build.Play competition that is currently running through December 2017. However, I will be honest and say that publishing my Creator’s game was the first time I started by XBox One in months, but I do plan to publish a few more games. The XBox One just doesn’t have the market share that the XBox 360 had back in the day.

    1. Thank you sir! And thanks for the kind words! πŸ™‚ Good or bad as far as the reviews, I’d agree that I kept the focus on the games, and that’s what mattered of course. And congrats to you on expanding into the Creator’s Program! I think that it’s really just getting started (market share is definitely not what it could be, as you said), but it’s definitely going to be the closest thing to XBLIG going forward. If the games are good, time will tell. I don’t know if I’d go into as much as I did in the heyday of XBLIG, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be looking to cover a few titles here and there.

      And thanks for the info on Dream.Build.Play. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on that, see how the Creator’s category of it turns out.

    1. There’s no shortage of ‘the weird’ on Steam, I know that. Even XBLIG’s successor on Xbox One has a few strange titles going already. I still might give those a look and continue on with that, do one or two periodically.

    2. I think that’s why I’m partially happy I don’t play anything on PC, otherwise I’d have a library full of Steam stuff I never play too. πŸ™‚

  3. Tim, thank you for all of your reviews! This site has been so much fun to read over the years, and the xbox live indie game scene has been the most interesting and unique platform I’ve ever experienced in my 30+ years of gaming. So many neat little gems out there.

    Out of all the home and handheld consoles out now, what would be your next best recommendation for console indie gaming?

    1. You are welcome, man, and thank YOU for stopping by to read them!

      I think everyone might have their own take on this, but really, all the consoles have their own indie niche. Nintendo might be a little behind, but the Switch is looking better and better. Both Xbox and PS4 publish the same amount and almost the same catalog (Xbox’s ‘Creator’s Program’— the spiritual successor to XBLIG— might give them the edge for true, homegrown ‘indie’ stuff). PS Vita used to have its own indie section as well, but that’s since been discontinued. So really, you can’t go wrong with finding indie anywhere these days.

  4. The feels, man … the feels. I’ve made some very good friends out of this site and the games it covers, and I am very sorrowful at the loss of both; no more OP walls, double-jump for the win, and confusing avatars that look a bit like cucumbers or Chrysler symbols (or perchance “cheating” to win a match). I do know there was something (sometimes) emotional about playing an XBLIG game: they generally were not polished and marketed like a big game and as a consequence they always felt more like labors of love to me than commercial product. And in today’s gaming world, that is noteworthy and should be admired. I’ll raise one tonight for both XBLIG and TheXblig. Long may they reign in our memories …

    1. Thank you sir! The XBLIGs may (soon) be gone from the storefront, but memories will always be there. We get to keep those. Some really good times we had playing Chris’ games! And you are perfectly right; big budget stuff or not, it never took away from the fun of playing a game with some friends (even if some of you were dirty cheaters— not mentioning any names!), flawed or not. It was all an experience when it came to XBLIG. Good or bad, at least it was never uninteresting. πŸ™‚

  5. Ooooo! Perhaps we could use this extra week to recommend some games to each other that weren’t covered by this site (stuff that came out before Tim started this excellent blo…site).
    Mine would be:
    Tacticolor (think a real-time version of Risk, doesn’t look like much but it’s highly addictive!)
    Anything by Radiangames (specially Ballistic, Crossfire, and Inferno)
    Explosionade (awesome action-packed game)
    Soulcaster (roving tower-defense from the maker of Escape Goat)
    Lasercat (really fun platformer)
    Alien Jelly (puzzle game with aliens in jelly cubes)
    Cursed Loot (a rogue-like game that is accessible enough to have gotten me into rogue-likes).

    1. Hey! You watch that word ‘blog’ and what you do with it! Haha. I’ve got Cursed Loot, Lasercat, and all the radiangames stuff (wasn’t quite the same on iPhone), not sure about Explosionade.

      As for other games, if someone has a list to check out, please post it. Now that we’ve got a week, I’m going to explore the marketplace and pick out some stuff that I never did try.

    2. I really liked Powa volley. Cartoony graphics, and each player you use has its own set of moves. It’s actually quite fun but probably only with 2 players

    3. I could see that benefiting from a second player, yeah. AI is AI, but it’d be better with other people. And that was another thing with XBLIGs; a lot of them relied heavily on having a friend or two around locally, which wasn’t always an option.

      That wasn’t the developer’s fault, of course, but it did make it a tougher sell when their game either required it or really needed it to shine.

    4. I wasn’t aware of the extra lists on the Leaderboards page. Thanks for the heads-up! I’ve got my 360 plugged in and wired up, so I’ll be checking those games out. Cheers.

  6. I am sad to see this service end. In my opinion it was the best platform for indie games. I’ve enjoyed following your reviews ever since you blasted the game(rightfully so) that I made (G-men). Thanks for giving great reviews and shining a spot light on the little guys!
    Best of luck
    Jeremy

    1. Hey Jeremy, good to hear from you again! I still think I might’ve been too hard on the game, but, it was a learning experience. No hard feelings, I hope! Thank you, and best of luck to you too. They pushed the end date back to October 7th now, but it’s been awesome for all of us to be a part of this grand experiment.

    2. That’s true! That’s the way you have to look at it. And, it got more eyes and interest on the game, so even without a positive review, it worked out. πŸ™‚

    1. Fixed it! πŸ˜‰ And yeah, they robbed this article of a big emotional sad, now that they pushed the date back! Haha. Bottom line, this is a good reminder to everyone to check out any last minute games, as now you really, REALLY have a date (maybe) set in stone.

  7. I honestly shed a tear reading this man! Caught me at a vulnerable time. I just woke, checked my emails on my phone and saw you had posted something new. I’ve had your stuff on notifications for years now.

    I laid in bed reading this and first off was very appreciative of you for taking the time to notate this date. Then I continued to read and the parts about moving on and making real friends got me in the feels.

    I’ve since got up and on my PC, had some time to think about it and reflect and I want to thank you directly Tim for what you’ve done to assist me. If nothing more then to share your love of indie games that has become infectious in not just me but many of us that hung around. But not just that but me personally you are the reason I do what I do now. You’ve inspired me to become who I am today in the gaming industry.

    Good bye Xbox Live Indie Games, many of you are still alive in my library but in other places since I’ve not had my 360 connected in almost a year.

    1. You know, I’ve mentioned this before when we’ve talked, but yeah, I think it’s worked both ways, and we’ve inspired each other. Honestly, when I was writing this all down and thinking about it last night, it’s the games that united us here, but it’s definitely been the conversations in the comments section that I’ve remembered. Even when writing the reviews, I was automatically thinking about what was going to be said in the comments, haha. We ran all over the place from the games to completely random stuff, but you guys basically GAVE ME the reason to keep doing what I was doing here more than the games even.

      And of course, all the credit in the world goes to yourself for doing what you’re doing now! It’s an incredibly demanding job, to stream and keep up to date on developers, games, community, etc. A lot of people like to think it’s just ‘playing games’, but it’s a huge mental and time commitment to do it.

    2. It’s like an old friend. The comment section. I keep coming back to see what’s been newly written. I keep re reading what everyone has already wrote. All, just like I used to do all the time on a daily basis.

      And, yes I do understand that the inspiration goes both ways but I went from an innocent bystander to an active participant to having my persona immortalized in not only one game but a second one coming soon, no exact info yet but you’ll be the first to know.

      Mad respect all around. Especially the people that take the time to make these games. Those are the people that are the crazies, we just have to play and provide content on them. Or in some cases let them know how bad they are.

    1. Thanks for the heads up, Joel! I’ve since seen that myself. So much for a big farewell, right? Now I’ll just have to imagine that I wrote this article a week from now, and then be sad all over again! πŸ™‚

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