Chris Charla

It’s no secret: many developers who brought their games to Xbox Live Arcade last generation were put off by the process and Microsoft’s policies. Some even abandoned the platform as a result. It may have taken a few years and a lot of complaints, but word of the indie development community’s malcontent finally made it to Microsoft, and the platform holder decided to do something about it. That something is the ID@Xbox, for which 25 games were announced last week at GDC.

So what’s different this time around? Chris Charla, the program’s director, recently chatted with Digital Spy and answered that exact question. One of the biggest complaints about XBLA was its lack of visibility. Gamers who powered on their Xbox 360s and explored the dashboard weren’t finding most XBLA games. It wasn’t the gamers’ fault, though; Arcade games were buried deeper and deeper away in the increasingly convoluted Xbox 360 menu system nearly every time it was updated. Charla, reiterating previous statements Microsoft has made about ID@Xbox, explained how indie games are now easier to find on Xbox One.

“There’s not a separate section,” he told Digital Spy. “It’s just a game is a game is a game. Games that come through ID@Xbox will be right next to games from any other publisher.”

And since all games are just that, indie games will receive access to everything AAA games do on Xbox One: Kinect, SmartGlass, Upload, Twitch recording, achievements, etc. While Charla admitted that discoverability is a continuing problem for indie games on all distribution platforms, he believes that tearing down the walls that separated such games from big budget releases on Xbox 360 is paramount to solving the problem.

“So the games will have the same opportunity to be featured in the curated spotlight section in the game store. They’ll be enumerated in the same way and the programmatic features like Trending and Top Games and Top Rated and that sort of thing, the recommendation engine that shows you what you’re interested in based on your past play patterns.”

Continuing, he the program’s director outlined how Upload, Microsoft’s own gameplay recording software its offering Xbox One gamers alongside Twitch, has the potential to make indie releases even more visible to those gamers who aren’t explicitly looking for them. Gamers who watch Upload streams will see when their friends are streaming indie games.

“And so you sort of see your friends feed and you see, ‘Oh they played this game, let me check that out,'” he explained, “and once you’re there you can immediately, in one click, get to the place where you can buy that game.

“We think that it’s going to actually be a really important tool, kind of a little bit underestimated right now, really, given just how successful Upload has been in terms of the number of views it had since it launched.”

Although Twitch lacks that one-button purchase option, Charla believes the streaming of indie games over that service will still help said games get noticed. Building awareness of the fact that and indie game exists is the important first marketing step. If gamers aren’t aware of a game, then they can’t buy it. But if they know it exists, they can then take it upon themselves to find it in the Xbox Games Store.

Source: Digital Spy

Image source: Develop Online