In an email to all members of the XNA Creators Club (the membership group all indie game developers are required to be a part of in order to publish games to the Xbox 360’s Indie Marketplace) Microsoft revealed that they are “beginning to sunset” the Xbox Live Indie Games program for the 360.
For years the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace has been home to a number of indie games hoping to make a splash on Microsoft’s last-gen console. With the Xbox 360’s popularity beginning to wane, and with the launch of Windows 10 and Xbox One, Microsoft has begun shutting down parts of the Xbox 360 ecosystem.
As of yesterday, 09 September 2015, indie game developers were no longer able to purchase annual membership subscriptions to the XNA Creators Club. Those whose membership is still active have been offered a chance to redeem a “free token” to continue development and publication to the Indie Game Marketplace until 9 September 2016.
After 09 September 2016, there will be no new games published to the Xbox 360’s Indie Game Marketplace. Microsoft has indicated that by September 2017, the Marketplace will be shut down for good.
This move on Microsoft’s behalf is not altogether unsurprising. The indie game development scene has changed since the Xbox 360’s Indie Game Marketplace was conceptualised. With the launch of Windows 10 and Microsoft’s determination to integrate their new OS with the Xbox One insofar as gaming goes, there is a larger audience that potential indie developers suddenly have access to. And Microsoft is pushing for that: they’re offering all Xbox 360 indie game developers a free membership token to the new Windows 10 Developer Program.
“Of course, enabling creators remains a core goal of Microsoft,” the company’s email to members reads, “As we move forward, we are excited to showcase the new Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform that enables independent developers to self-publish and release on multiple platforms such as PC, tablets, Xbox One and mobile devices. Third-party tools such as Unity, Unreal Engine, and GameMaker provide a great way for new developers to get started, and all are supported on Microsoft devices with Windows 10.”