After violent complaints about Xbox Live’s dashboard update, Microsoft has reassured Xbox Live Indie Games developers that it only wants what’s best for them.

Independent developers were summarily pissed off when Microsoft altered the the Xbox Live Indie Games storefront and moved it to a new location in the Xbox Live dashboard update of 2010. Despite complaints, Microsoft says that the changes were meant to help, not harm.

The Indie Games section was once given its own bar in the Games Marketplace tab, but is now found in a new section called Specialty Shops that includes the Avatar Marketplace, Game Room, and the Rock Band and Guitar Hero music stores. Xbox Live Indie Games also don’t appear in the Games Marketplace’s A-Z listings, which is one of the primary complaints.

Microsoft told Digital Spy that the move was intended to give Xbox Live Indie Games a bigger role in the overall Xbox Live experience. “Microsoft continues to support the efforts of independent game developers,” a statement reads. “The intent of the Specialty Shops section was to provide access to marketplaces that focus on a specific type of content, with unique ways of sorting through that content.”

“We wanted to give Xbox Live Indie Games that full marketplace experience and felt this was the best place to do it, alongside other popular channels like the Avatar Marketplace,” the statement continues. “In fact, since the launch of Avatars, Xbox Live members have made more than 290 million customizations to their Avatar’s clothing, so we expect many people to regularly visit the Specialty Shops section.”

The statement also points out that Microsoft added new browsing features for Xbox Live Indie Games, including the ability to search through the top-rated games by genre. Additionally, the Top Rated and Top Downloaded lists, which are said to be pretty important to developers, have expanded from 20 to 50 titles shown.

Whether the move pays off for Indie Games developers, or serves to kill them off instead, remains to be seen. The millions of new users projected to join Xbox Live thanks to Kinect could make a huge difference, if Microsoft is correct about the Specialty Shop’s prominence.

The situation is hard to judge from the outside, because while some Xbox Live Indie Games are more than worth the small price of entry, others are not. However, not being featured in the A-Z listings, or even Genres, is understandably a bit hard to swallow for those developers trying to make a living out of this. The Indie Games storefront should probably have its own unique section, but it does initially seem like its status has been diminished by hiding it behind another menu choice.

Source: Digital Spy

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