Letter from the Editor: Future of XBLA Fans looks bright
Now that the craziness from the launch of two exciting consoles in the course of two weeks has finally abated, I wanted to take the time to let our readers in on what is going on behind the scenes at XBLAFans. While Microsoft has dropped the XBLA brand opting for a more standardized “Xbox One games are games” approach, XBLA Fans will continue to cover the digital titles our readers know and love and have affectionately called Xbox Live Arcade Games for the past three and a half years with us.
What this means is we have a lot more flexibility in what we cover. We are going to cover games like Killer Instinct for Xbox One despite the fact versions of the game can cost as much as a retail title. So trying to make a clear-cut price rule doesn’t make sense. With almost every game being sold digitally now (I bought Battlefield 4 via Xbox Live Marketplace within five minutes of opening my console and for me personally the ability to download games at launch is a welcomed feature), we can’t make the distinction as digital games only. Both large publishers and indie developers made XBLA games for Xbox 360, so it’s hard to define it as indie only.
A few years ago I found myself having to explain what XBLA games were to people, including those in the game industry. We began the site after Castle Crashers and Shadow Complex had launched but prior to indie darlings like Limbo and Super Meat Boy, so XBLA was still developing. I have a harder time defining what is XBLA now than I did three years ago. Games aren’t necessarily more compact experiences, though some obviously are. Games like Minecraft, Trials Evolution and State of Decay broke sales records and also shattered expectations by providing huge experiences for players. At this point the only unequivocally true fact with Xbox Live Arcade is that it is a curated platform on Xbox 360, and even that notion is being challenged now with the ID@Xbox Program now managed by Chris Charla former Portfolio Director for XBLA. So what is XBLA now?
I have to imagine Microsoft found itself in a similar dilemma when looking toward the Xbox One with regards to XBLA, especially since they know more about the future than I do. The result is that XBLA Fans will continue as we did before. We’ll still cover the same quality experiences as we did previously, while leaving the major AAA “retail” titles to guys like Polygon, Joystiq and GameInformer. We don’t need more sites covering Halo. We need more sites covering Super Time Force, Below, Ascend and Crimson Dragon. From now on our editors will have discretion to cover what they feel fits the spirit of XBLAFans. It’s still hard to define what XBLA is, but to steal one from the Supreme Court of the United States of America, “I’ll know it when I see it”.