Microsoft needs to do better at showcasing indie games on the Xbox One, admits Major Nelson

Vu Anh Nguyen

Indie games have grown to become an integral part of the gaming industry, and one of the focus on any current gaming system, Microsoft’s Xbox One included. Some improvements on that are in order for Redmond, however, admits Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb  on the latest episode of IGN’s Podcast Unlocked series, reports Gamespot.

Indie games were promoted in great ways in the Xbox 360 era through Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), which should be familiar to long-time Xbox fans and console gamers in general. Sadly, the program’s existence did not continue to the Xbox One era, leaving only ID@Xbox. According to Major Nelson, this is because XBLA is no longer suitable in the current era of indie games.

“I think Arcade was a great, defining feature of [Xbox 360]. It was also a different time then”, “So I think it’s just that things have evolved”

Then, indie games and developers had fewer ways to promote themselves, and so had to rely on the few channels available, like XBLA. Now, there’s Steam Greenlight, mobile stores and many other online outlets; “a bazillion ways to do it,” in Hryb’s words. Microsoft’s current ID@Xbox program is just one of many avenues for discovery. The sheer number of indie games coming out currently is also another potential issue for the XBLA model. There are simply too many indie games to provide exposure for (even though Major Nelson tries to with his frequent blog posts, which we have reported about), not to mention not all of them are discover-worthy.

“Providing exposure, that’s a different problem,” he explained. “We need to be better at that and that’s why I like to mention [indie games] on my blog, I put them in the show [“This Week on Xbox”] as often as I can. It’s just that, everyone’s making a game now.”

Curation of spotlighted games by Microsoft can also be done, but it may cost studios money to be featured in sales event like Arcade Wednesdays or Summer of Arcade back in the XBLA days, to cite one of the difficulties. Nevertheless, Hryb has heard the concerns and pledged on future improvements from Microsoft. Other involved also seem to agree with the sentiment, including XBLA creator Greg Canessa, who urged Microsoft to bring back the “multi-hundred-million-dollar” service, partly to differentiate Xbox from Playstation. Judging from how heavily Microsoft has featured Studio Wildcard’s Ark: Survival Evolved, changes may be happening.

Apart from indie game promotion, many other interesting tidbits about Major Nelson are also revealed in the podcast, including his title in Microsoft’s employee address book (not what you think), his Twitter cred, and so on, along with discussion about Halo 5: Guardians. Elder Scrolls and Fallout boss Todd Howard were also joined the show.