The Behemoth's John Baez reckons the console indie community "would not exist" without XBLA.
It turns out the 360 is absolutely trouncing the competition when it comes to indie titles; At least, according to Behemoth's John Baez, as quoted by Official Xbox Magazine. Behemoth's Castle Crashers is one of XBLA's more notable success stories. The light-hearted brawler rarely drops out of the service's top ten sales chart, having shifted over 2 million copies to date. Baez not only credits XBLA with the success of his title, but with the rise of the console indie scene in general.
"I think without a doubt the indie console community would not exist as it does today if Xbox Live Arcade had been dropped after the original Xbox iteration," Baez said. "No other console hardware manufacturer has had the success of downloadable games that XBLA has had. And many smaller developers have shared in that success."
Not all XBLA veterans are so fond. World of Goo developer, Ron Carmel, posted an in-depth breakdown of what he believes are the service's main failings. Brian Provinciano, of Retro City Rampage fame, claimed "a good 85 percent of developers" have had unpleasant experiences with the service, and accused Microsoft of "nickel and diming" developers. Braid developer, Jon Blow, has misgivings as well, as he detailed in an interview with Gamasutra:
"But if you make an XBLA game, the amount of bullshit that adds is gigantic. It can take a third to a half of the effort required to build your game, in some cases, and I don't think that they understand that. I don't think that they understand that, at least for that size of game, they're competing very heavily with Steam and iOS for developer mindshare."
Despite having voiced concerns about the service's handling of indie games - as opposed to Arcade titles - Xbox Live Indie Games Uprising co-organizer, Dave Voyles, echoed Baez's sentiments.
"I don't believe Microsoft was prepared for the success that it would see, both in terms of the number of devs who were on board, and the volume of people who would browse the marketplace," he said. "Before XBLIG, and even after, there has yet to be an easy avenue for independent devs to get work released without going through a closed platform or dealing with a publisher."
I can't say I disagree with Baez's assessment. Sony has only recently started competing with Microsoft's indie lineup by pushing for PSN exclusives and the Wii's relatively basic online infrastructure almost put it out of the digital race entirely. The recently released Wii U seems better equipped in that regard. The Wii U eShop will allow developers to set their own prices and determine when they have sales, something neither PSN nor XBLA currently allow.