Xbox Live is shutting down its Indie Games program for the Xbox 360, Microsoft told indie developers in an email today.
Effective today, developers cannot purchase or renew annual memberships in the program, though active developers may continue building their games until a year from now, Sept. 9, 2016. On that date, all publishing to the Indie Games Marketplace on Xbox 360 will cease.
For consumers, games on the Indie Marketplace still will be available for purchase until it closes "around September 2017." Then, "around November 2017," Microsoft will issue a final payment to all indie game participants for their wares, whether they meet the $150 minimum payment threshold or not.
Xbox Live Indie Games was an initiative that began with outreach to developers in 2006, a year after the Xbox 360's launch. It debuted to the public in late 2008 as "Xbox Live Community Games." More than 3,300 games have been published to the service since then, some of them garnering wide attention, including FortressCraft (pictured above), a game that predated Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition by more than a year; NLL Lacrosse 2010, a sports video game licensed by a professional league, and Avatar Golf, one of the first big hits — commercial or indie release — using avatars in the main game.
The XNA tool supporting development on Xbox Live Indie Games was discontinued in 2013 and the service has no presence on the Xbox One. On that console, Microsoft's indie outreach has been replaced by the ID@Xbox program, a more formal and managed approach to finding, publishing and promoting independent games.