Indie Game Uprising unites Xbox developers, offers 11 games for $11

Indie Games Uprising 3

The third annual Indie Games Uprising launches this week, as developers band together to cross-promote titles on the Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) channel. Have you, perhaps, never heard of the XBLIG?  Well, that’s why they’re having an uprising!

When Microsoft launched the XBLIG in 2008 (then called the Community Games Initiative), there was reason to be excited. While adventurous PC gamers had long enjoyed a constant stream of  bedroom-coded wackiness, indie development on consoles was only for companies big enough to afford expensive development kits. The XBLIG changed all that, merging the open creativity of the PC world with the accessibility of consoles. It was a great way to show off the Xbox’s chief advantage: A straightforward Visual Basic programming framework that made shifting from development to release much easier than on other platforms. It also acted as a farm team for the game design stars of the future.

Unfortunately, the service suffered from all the problems that beset any open platform: tossed-off junk outnumbered quality titles, consumers found it too hard to find the good stuff, and with no big marketing budgets on the line Microsoft quickly lost interest in letting players know the service existed. When the new Xbox dashboard buried the XBLIG behind several layers of clicking, it looked like the service would be allowed to die alone, unmourned, and unloved.

And that would be tragic. Sure, there’s lots of Minecraft clones and lame strip-poker simulators on XBLIG, but there’s also quite a few masterpieces. In The Pit, a game with no graphics, Audiball, a puzzle game played with a Guitar Hero controller, and Weapon Of Choice, a heavy-metal inspired Contra-on-PCP freakout are all demonstrations of how much fun gamers could have if they just looked.

So for the last three years, indie developers have banded together to give a curated suite of games a single promotional push, in the hopes that a bigger mass would be more visible in the distance. The first year’s Uprising was a well-intentioned bust, with several of the games not even getting released on time. But the second time was the charm. Microsoft promoted the Uprising on the front page of the Dashboard, blogs took notice, and a few titles sold well into five figures.

In keeping with the XBLIG tradition, this year’s games are sometimes graphically crude, sometimes unpolished, and occasionally derivative, but they’re also cheap, clever, and sometimes intriguing. The lineup includes the  beautifully mournful City Tuesday, which applies the time-travel principles of Majorca’s Mask to a terrorist attack, the freaky 3-D puzzle game Entropy, and the minimalist first-person whatsit Pixel, along with management sims, 2-D platformers, dungeon crawlers, and, yes, a Minecraft clone (though with some interesting outer-space twists). Best of all, you can get all 11 games for $11, a great deal even if you only play the games for a few minutes each.

Microsoft seems to be continuing its policy of semi-benevolent apathy towards the service. Co-organizer Michael Hicks told  a reporter from Wired that Microsoft can’t promote them on the Dashboard because of vague “legal reasons.”

But the developers behind the Uprising are undeterred, pushing ahead with community growth even on Microsoft’s cold soil. Hicks told Wired, “We’re really trying to raise awareness for everyone. It would feel great to see other non-Uprising games benefit as well from what we’re doing.”  Mobile developerment studio Eleventy-Aught is lending a hand with the XBLIG Companion, a donation-supported app for Android and Windows phones that lets users browse and rate games on the service, as well as view trailers and queue up downloads directly from their phones.

It’s unlikely that anyone in the Uprising will make more than ramen money, and the rough edges of the games mean they’re aimed at the people willing to look past the occasional bug in search of creativity. But the do-it-yourself spirit of the Uprising should inspire anyone with a thumbstick and a dream, and if just one person makes this the first time they play a game made by a team smaller than a military platoon, it’ll all be worth it.

Gaming

Google Stadia is the upcoming Netflix for games that will hurt game creators

Google Stadia promises a world where gaming is more convenient than ever, but it’s a future that will damage the way people make games.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Gaming

From fatalities to new characters, here's what we know about Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11 releases April 23 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Here is everything we know about NetherRealm's latest fighting game, including its characters.
Gaming

World of Warcraft's allied races will make you want to start a new character

The Horde and Alliance are seeking new allies in their struggle for control of Azeroth. Whether you pledge your allegiance to the Horde or Alliance, we have a guide to help you unlock every allied race in Battle for Azeroth.
Gaming

Wired headphones are so 2018. Here's how to pair a Bluetooth device to your PS4

One of the best aspects of modern consoles is how easily you can pair them with other devices. Here's our quick primer on how to connect a Bluetooth headset (or really any Bluetooth device) to your PlayStation 4.
Deals

Amazon sale knocks 20% off Nintendo Switch, Pro Controller, and games

A new wave of savings on gaming content is crashing down in celebration of Earth Day. Amazon is slashing prices up to 20% off for used Nintendo Switch consoles, games, and accessories like the Switch Pro Controller.
Gaming

Here are the best games to play with your friends on the Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch's hybrid design adds convenience to your gaming time, allowing you to play Switch games both at home and on the go. The design also benefits multiplayer experiences, from co-op to competitive and online to offline.
Gaming

Get Nindie with it and check out these awesome indie games for the Switch

The Nintendo Switch's portability makes indies feel at home on the platform. Luckily, there are plenty of great titles to choose from. Here are our picks for the best Nintendo Switch indie games.
Gaming

Epic Games bans more than 1,000 cheaters in 1st week of Fortnite World Cup

Epic Games has already banned more than 1,000 cheaters in the Fortnite World Cup. The developer is taking cheating seriously, especially as players are competing for a $1 million prize pool in every week of the qualifiers.
Gaming

Mortal Kombat 11 DLC characters reportedly leaked: Who’s next after Shang Tsung?

A datamine on Mortal Kombat 11 reportedly revealed all the DLC characters that will be added to the game's expansive roster. The leak corroborates the hint that the anti-hero Spawn is on his way to joining the fighting game.
Gaming

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

Apex Legends update 1.1.1 failed in fixing hitbox issue of Caustic, Gibraltar

Respawn Entertainment tried to make Caustic and Gibraltar more playable with Apex Legends version 1.1.1. The Fortified passive ability is meant to reduce incoming damage by 10%, but it is not working properly.