The Xbox 360 marketplace launched in 2005, with PlayStation 3's store following in 2006. Nintendo's WiiWare didn't launch until 2008, the same year the iPhone's App Store and Xbox Live Community Games launched. Microsoft was clearly influenced by these different ecosystems, but went a step further with a nearly-completely community driven process. Microsoft pioneered open console development and continues to lead the way with XBLIG. Though quality output and management of XBLG may be sore subjects, I believe XNA and XBLIG pushed other big-platform decision-makers to consider making more room for independent developers.
XBLIG launched many a successful game studio, starting with Ska Studios, creators of The Dishwasher series, also Zeboyd Games, creators of Cthulu Saves the World, Radiangames with its popular twin-stick series, and Magical Time Bean, creators of Escape Goat, in addition to our own work.
The XNA game forums have more than 500,000 registered users. There are over 2,800 games made with XNA Game Studio for XBLIG.
Games released on XBLIG have cracked millions of downloads, millions of dollars in revenue, and some have even topped a million sales. Dozens of Xbox LIVE Arcade and Steam games such as Bastion, Fez, Dust: An Elysian Tail, and Terraria have used XNA Game Studio in part or in full.
Nick Gravelyn, long-time XNA developer and supporter started a hashtag a few days ago, which quickly exploded into hundreds of developers responding with what the platform meant to them. Some remarks centered on business, some on artistic inspiration, and many mentioned having made their first game because of the platform.
The most amazing pair of posts had to be from Ska Studios:
And the simplest but probably most important, echoed by others:
Where Do We Go From Here
Skulls of The Shogun was originally built in XNA and was just released on XBLA. My own Serious Sam Double D XXL was created in XNA and releases to XBLA in mid February. Charlie Murder and Terraria (the XBLA version) are just down the road. While "abandoned", it's still in heavy use. For those that wish to continue using XNA, MonoGame looks to be a solid choice on PC. While there's no spoken commitment yet to bringing XBLIG back to the next Xbox I'm still hopeful Microsoft will have some open-develop option available.
As always, there are options for PC, such as Unity and GameMaker, but for many gamers, PC development doesn't hold the same mystique. Will Android consoles such as the Ouya and the GameStick fill in the gap? Clearly, the issue there is user base. If those consoles fail to sell, it won't be the same opportunity as it is with XBLIG -- having millions of potential gamers being able to play your creations.
Regardless of where the future leads, XNA came at a time when indie games were growing and it helped them grow. Despite being created by a multibillion-dollar corporation, XNA still managed to facilitate volumes of honest game creation and foster new careers in development. XNA will be missed. Let's remember the high notes of open console development and well-designed game libraries as we move forward...
Thank you. It will be missed. It has made its mark in history, and has made indie development what it is today.