There’s a big honkin’ problem with Xbox Live Indie Games, the service that allows indie developers to self-publish inexpensive games to the Xbox 360.
No, it’s not that a lot of the games are rip-offs, clones, wastes of money, or unintelligible messes.
No, it’s not that the market is so undervalued that you can’t sell anything on it for more than a dollar.
No, it’s not that Excruciating Guitar Voyage 2 still hasn’t come out, even though the first one is awesome and let you set yourself on fire in order to solve puzzles.
It’s that the games all have an expiration date, and we’re inching ever closer to it.
Not a lot of people know this, either because they don’t notice, or they’ve never actually bought an Xbox Live Indie Game before, but every game on the market requires a connection to Xbox Live in order to run. You can’t play them if your Internet’s out, or if Xbox Live is down, or if you’re like me and your console can only to connect to Xbox Live one out of every five tries. They just won’t work.
So far, this hasn’t been a big enough problem for people to complain about, but it’s going to be one soon. Microsoft’s new console, the Xbox One, is coming out by the end of the year. That’s gonna be their big new focus. From that point on, it’s only a matter of time until they shut off Xbox 360 support entirely. And what happens then?
Your entire Xbox Indie Games collection goes dark. Every game you’ve ever purchased for it will be totally unplayable, because you can’t make that arbitrary Xbox Live connection. It’s tantamount to Microsoft sneaking into your home in the dead of night, Grinch-style, and making off with your Super Nintendo collection.
But it’s not just that—the games themselves will essentially wink out of existence entirely. Any game that’s an XBLIG exclusive won’t be playable by anyone, ever. No more FortressCraft. No more I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1. No more (to be selfish about it) my own Life in the Dorms. They’ll just be GONE. Dead. Erased from the friggin’ earth.
Nobody’s talking about this right now, I guess because they don’t care, or because it’s still pretty far off on the future. But it’s still coming. I mean, you can’t connect to Xbox Live on the original Xbox 1 anymore, can you? Can you still play Champions of Norrath on PS2 over your ridiculous ethernet adapter? It’s bad enough that the Xbox One isn’t backwards compatible, so you won’t be able to play any of your XBLA or XBLIG downloads on it; every game ever released for XBLIG will be gone.
…Unless they take away the Xbox Live restriction.
This would be the part where I’d ask you to sign a petition; but that’s dumb. If you care enough about it, you’ll find some way to contact Microsoft about it. Here’s what I’ve tried (so far):
- E-mailing Xbox Live Indie Games support
- Posting on the Xbox forums
- Posting on the Xbox Indie Games forums (although I was modded for discussing future tech)
- Tweeting to @XboxSupport
- E-mailing Microsoft general support
As of this writing, the best/only response has been from the Xbox Support Twitter account. To their credit, they got back to me in like a minute; however, they only had this to say:
@paulmfranzen We wouldn’t be able to speculate on that. I imagine we’ll be supporting the Xbox 360 for a significant amount of time. ^LB
— Xbox Support (@XboxSupport1) June 8, 2013
Which is a fair point; like I said, this is still pretty far off in the future. But why not start talking about it now?
Consider this: The Xbox One has a similar DRM restriction; it requires users to connect to Xbox Live every 24 hours in order to play any game. If you can’t connect to Xbox Live for any reason, you can’t play your games, period. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
If we let XBLIG wink out of existence now, what’s to stop it from happening again to your entire Xbox videogame collection?