Jonathan Flook from Silver Dollar Games gives our readers eight reasons why a developer should make an Xbox Indie Game.
I’ve read a few articles about the many problems with the App Hub and Xbox Indie Games, but I can’t find too many about how great it is. So I thought I’d give it a try. Silver Dollar Games would like to share eight reasons why you should make an Xbox Indie Game. This article is purely based on our experiences making Xbox Indie Games from the first day Xbox Indie Games launched till now. Additionally we didn’t consult any other developers while making this article.
1. A Great Place to Start
If you haven’t made a video game before and you’re not sure where to start, Xbox Indie Games is the place to go. The XNA framework is very easy to use. Additionally any problems you encounter, chances are someone has come across it before and they’ll be able to help you. If you’re looking for general knowledge on XNA there are dozens of reference books you can purchase to assist you.
More importantly the Play Test and Peer Review process can be relatively quick if you like. If you follow the guidelines provided in the App Hub forums you can get your game released in two weeks from the first day you submit it. Further to that, if you want extensive feedback on your game you can use the Play Test forums to get feedback from other developers as long as you wish. Xbox Live Indie Games is for everyone and everyone is welcome. The community is very helpful and very excepting of new developers. Give it a try, I’m sure you’re discover the same thing.
2. Helps Dreams Come True
Believe it or not, Xbox Indie Games have made many people’s dreams come true or at least one step closer to it. Each year Microsoft is gracious enough to host a competition with plenty of prizes. The Dream Build Play contest is used to find the best Xbox Indie Games out there. The winners could be offered a chance to put their game on Xbox Live Arcade in addition to cash prizes. Our game Blazing Birds was a lucky winner one year and is now on Xbox Live Arcade. It’s hard to explain how exhilarating it is to have an Xbox Live Arcade game out on the market, but just entering the Dream Build Play contest is exciting in its self.
Xbox Indie Games has also helped many developers get their game on Steam. From what I’ve read in the App Hub forums it’s hard to get an indie game on Steam, but many developers have used their Xbox Indie Game as a sales pitch to Steam. Beat Hazard, Defy Gravity, Your Doodles Are Bugged, Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death IIV are all example of games on Xbox Indie Games that are now on Steam. It’s amazing to see exceptional games get twice the exposure, I believe partly thanks to the amazing opportunity Xbox Indie Games provides.
From time to time there’s talk on the App Hub forums about Xbox Indie Games being a failed venture. People have come up with countless reasons why. Lack of exposure, no achievements and no leader boards are some of the reasons mentioned. It’s not all bad. There are plenty of games that have seen incredible success. Fortress Craft for example is well on its way to making a million dollars. I’ve also read that James Silva bought a house off the sales he made from his game, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!. The Impossible Game is still selling great two years after its release. In fact, if you go to http://marketplace.xbox.com and sort Indie Games by Best Selling All-Time you’ll see a hundred games from all genres that have sold well. All of these games are fantastic in their own right. It’s not impossible to make a buck on indie games. We’re not very good at it ourselves, but many others have been and continue to be each day.
3. Fans and Blogger Support
One of the best things about Xbox Indie Games is the endless support from bloggers and critics. There are many websites out there dedicated to showing the world all the great Xbox Indie Games. I won’t name them, but a simple Google search will turn up hundreds of sites. The passion people have for Xbox Indie Games is extraordinary. It’s not just bloggers and critics though. Thousands of fans take the time to write us developers. I myself have received dozens of e-mails about our games and I know, from looking at their websites, that other developers like Digital DNA and Stegersaurus Games have received much acclaim as well.
I assure you, if you make an Xbox Indie Game you’ll find someone out there that’ll enjoy it. I can’t think of too many things more rewarding than having someone finish your game and tell you how much they loved it. That’s reason enough to make an Xbox Indie Game.
The support goes beyond blogs, reviews and fans though. Have you heard about the Indie Games Winter Uprising from 2010? How about the Indie Games Summer Uprising? Well… people like Dave Voyles and Kris Steele are just a few of the many people working overtime to make promotions like the Uprisings happen. Everyone I know and spoken to do all this work for free. No one’s getting money from promoting Indie Games. I’m guessing they’re all helping out because they believe Xbox Indie Games something special.