What Is It?
The Xbox 360 Indie Games section is made up of games created with Microsoft’s XNA software. Games are made by individual people or small dev teams of several people. The games are not monitored by Microsoft for quality, which is both good and bad since it allows creative niche titles to be produced, but it also lets a lot of crappy games slip through the cracks onto the service. There are some real gems to be found, though, so digging through the junk is worth the effort. The games range in price from 80MSP ($1) on up and the prices are set by the developers of each game so yell at them if things are overpriced.
Where Is It?
You can find the Indie Games section on the Xbox 360 by going to the “Games Marketplace” row on the dashboard (press A) and then scroll to the “Indie Games” row (press A). From there you can browse the games by the most downloaded, highest rated, and more.
What Type of Games Are There?
There are games covering pretty much every genre as well as a wide range of quality. There are racing games, shooters, twin stick shooters, 2D platformers, music, drumming, cards, classic arcade remakes, and more. There are also practical applications like a virtual fish tank and even massage programs that simply make your Xbox 360 controller vibrate.
How Do You Find The Good Games?
There are nearly 500 titles available in the Indie Games section as of this writing and, no offense to the developers; a lot of them suck out loud. And some of them are way overpriced. Thankfully, every game has a demo mode that generally does a great job of letting you know exactly how the game plays and what features it offers.
Sorting through 500+ games, even when you can play demos, is still a lot of work so separating the best from the rest and working your way down from there is the way to go. You can brose the Xbox Live Marketplace on Xbox.com and even queue up downloads that will start the next time you turn your Xbox 360 on. This way you can sort through the games (I recommend looking at the “Best Selling” list as well as the “Top Rated” lists since the games are rated and purchased by regular people so it is a pretty good way to tell if they are good nor not) and queue up a bunch of games to try out.
Do Indie Games Have Achievements?
It must be noted that the games do not go through normal Microsoft quality control and are not rated by the ESRB. The games are instead rated by the community for things like violence, sexual content, and general mature content. This gives you at least a little idea of what to expect before you download something. Occasionally, games do get removed from the service by Microsoft for content reasons (people keep trying to make sexy games …just us the Internet, people!), but for the most part the Indie Games are community rated and monitored.
How Can I Make My Own Games?
You can learn all about how to make games using XNA and how to share them with the world on the Xbox Live Marketplace at the official XNA Creators Club Website.