This week's new Xbox Live
dashboard goes a little too far in its efforts to streamline your
access to XBLA content – at least, if you're an indie games fan.
The update doesn't list Indie Games in the Genre section of the
Marketplace. Instead, the sizable section's relegated to a single,
separate list, organized by neither genre nor title. As GameMarx
shows, browsing the whole thing (which you may have to, if you're
looking for a particular game) is liable to cause hiccups across the
Above: At least Indie fans have plenty to choose from
Indie games also can't
access new features such as Cloud Saves, Beacons or presence on the
XBLA iOS app. This isn't the first time indies have felt slanted by
Microsoft's service: for a long time now, XBLIG titles have had to
make do without features such as Achievements, Leaderboards or the
ability to launch without an XBLA connection.
The new update comes
alongside a revision of Microsoft's Terms of Service, which must be
approved before players can access XBLA. The new TOS severely limits
Microsoft's liability and restricts subscribers' options in the event
of a dispute, forcing XBLA users to submit to binding arbitration and
forbidding participation in class-action legal proceedings against
Microsoft. This is in line with the revisions by Sony to the PSN's
TOS earlier this year.
If all this trampling of
indie devs and legal rights has you steamed, you could
consider blocking advertising in protest. For now, anyway – we've a
hunch advertisers' concerns may be addressed more promptly
than those of bedroom coders. Then again, perhaps you should be grateful: in territories such as the Pacific, ratings hassles prevent XBLIG titles from showing up on the dashboard at all...