11 Dec 2011

New Dashboard is Better for Good Games

Erosion of discovery, not sales

There's been some hoo-ha on those Internets that the kids have these days, saying that the new dashboard is bad for XBLIG. I don't agree with that sentiment, and think serious XBLIG developers are better off.

The new dashboard is bad for discovery. Both XBLA and XBLIG are now approximately 1,000 buttons presses away. There are no genre filters for XBLIG, meaning new releases get dumped into one big chronological list.

This makes browsing for games less straightforward, and makes it less likely that anyone will ever stumble across XBLIG's new releases list in the first place.

The big, big difference is the fact that XBLIG titles show up in the Bing search results. If you know the title of a game, you can get to it with minimum fuss, especially if you have Kinect. Gone are the troubles of "I wanted to download your game, but I couldn't find it." That's not a made-up quote, as any XBLIG developer will tell you.

The net result of this (if users adopt Bing search) is that games good enough to have garnered press attention or made by developers professional enough to have indulged in marketing will be much easier to find. As an added bonus, consumers won't be exposed to the deluge of hobbyist and me-too titles that do so much to drag XBLIG's reputation through the effluent-riddled mud.

If people don't know about your game then it's either not good enough to get press attention, or not good enough for people to recommend to their friends. I don't believe Joe Average ever stumbled across XBLIGs and so I don't expect a drop in footfall. Even if there is, it'll be in line with that which XBLA experiences (that's the next-door shelf): hardly a bad place to be.

SpynDoctor, a talented developer I have great respect for, was tweeting in an accusative manner that XBLIG is second class. It's still next to XBLA, the shelf where all of Microsoft's online money comes from. The shelf that doesn't give Microsoft constant PR headaches. The shelf that doesn't have titles so bad that they make a negative impact on the consumer. The shelf that isn't the abandoned orphan offspring who's forward-thinking parent has long since moved on.

Be thankful that Microsoft's premium clients (XBLA publishers) have not thrown their toys out of the pram when they discovered that XBLIGs will show up in the search results alongside XBLA games.

I wonder how many idiots have to name their XBLIG titles after XBLA games before that decision gets reversed?

Besides, if you're that bothered about making more money, upload a PC port of your game to IndieCity.