Xbox Live Indie Games Sales Data 2009

By: Derek Yu

On: January 28th, 2010

XBLIG Sales Data 2009

XBLIG Sales Data 2009

Gamerbytes, a downloadable game blog affiliated with Gamasutra, has an interesting report that reveals sales data for Xbox Live Indie Games titles in 2009. The data is heartening, and shows that the service can be lucrative. Hopefully these reports will drive more developers to XBLIG and start a positive cycle that will increase the quality and visibility of these games.

Also, please check out this thread on the XNA developers forums, where much of the data was gathered.

  • nobody2

    My condolences for all the developers who spent real effort making games for this cesspit.

  • Kicks

    Well it’s refueled my hopes for the platform. I’ve been looking to see how I might be able to port over my xna game, but I still have faith in it.

    Even if it doesn’t work out, porting over a game wouldn’t be too much effort.

  • Matt Sams

    The ‘cesspit’ feel is due to an early trend of younger or unpolished devs simply throwing out trash games and apps in an iPhone App Store mentality hoping to cash in on a quick buck.

    The core community has tried very hard to make sure that devs try to take some pride in the work they put forth, and weigh heavily if what they’re making is worth putting up in the first place.

    As with most things though, people don’t listen and things still get passed that most of us would rather not see. It’s embarrassing to those of us who take it seriously.

    There is a general upward trend happening in the past few months, though. Ratings are helping the trash stay at the bottom of the heap and let the worthwhile games come forth. General attitudes ARE changing as more and more role models like MStar Games step forward to show how its done.

    If people continue to ignore the service as a ‘cesspit’ and listen to certain sensationalist blog posts about the doom of a barely one year old service, then they are only going to miss out as XBLIG begins to come into its own.

    Nuts to them. :)

  • Derek

    Matt, do you mind if I cling to you like you were a life preserver in an icy sea of bitter indie cynicism?

  • BJJ

    Did the developers see a cent of this?

  • Matt Sams

    @BJJ, these totals should be what the developers actually got after the Microsoft 30% cut. It is pre-tax, though.

    @Derek, gladly, I need the company out here.

  • Dodger

    This is heartening information. I’m still a little cynical about the XBLIG service myself, and the whole ratings system (especially since I’ve played numerous games that weren’t just “indie” games that were absolute shit yet received 4 and a half stars by 500+ people). However, these are some positive numbers that prove the service can be a lucrative and viable forum to distribute indie games. I think my biggest problem is just with the general XBox Live service. I really like the idea that indies can use it as a source for distribution, but the service irritates me and more disheartening than any amount of “shitty” indie games is the fact that Microsoft just doesn’t care about their online “service”. If they fixed that (and fixed their hardware) I might still be an avid Xbox gamer and XBLA and XBLIG consumer (which I was before both the service and my system became nothing more than a money pit for Microsoft). I still appreciate this news and knowledge and only wish success for anyone that does put their heart into developing via XNA… I just wish it didn’t have to go through the shitty Xbox Live service.

  • paul eres

    also keep in mind there are 600 games on xblig, and these are just the top 20 — the average probably makes a few hundred dollars

    that said, i imagine xblig can be viable if you really work at it, especially the marketing; plus it’s just cool to play your game on a console, even if it doesn’t make much money

  • DragonSix

    When I see these numbers, I believe even more that removing the 10$ pricetag was a big mistake for MS. It would be a better incentive to make better and more polished games.

    Just look at the Ezmuze numbers. Even if fewer people enjoy this type of musical game/tool, they are willing to help the dev, and the game is as sustainable has the top 1.
    This is more healthy than most 1$ fast-games.

  • Gabe

    Noticing that one of them sold at a $10 price point, I had to google it…

    “ezmuze+ Hamst3r edition” is an audio loop program.

    Clip here:

    14,000 sales, making them $98,000.

    Nice work.

  • Jake

    I enjoyed Z0mb1es, and really only bought it because it was a dollar and I figured what the hell.

    If this game was 5 bucks, even if it was longer, just from my point of view as an average casual xbox gamer I likely would of glossed over it and passed.

    I’m curious how much Miner Dig Deep made, I also bought this one, and the artwork is lame, but the game was bloody addicting spent hours playing till I beat it, but again if it was priced at 500 points I would of skipped it.

    The one dollar price point has really opened me up to the indie games on the xbox, I’m now more likely to spend more money on games then I would have before.

    So don’t knock the one buck :p it gets people hooked on the idea of spending more on the box as a whole.

  • Snow

    Even though a game might look like it was put together quick or unpolished – it’s not always “trash”. Gamers buy what is fun. If the gameplay is addicting, yeah, I think devs are lazy if they don’t use some better artwork or don’t polish it up a bit. But, each unto his own. It’s nice that there are devs who work hard and sweat blood to bring forth a masterpiece. It’s not unappreciated, especially by me. Just focus on your own product.

    I was trained in art school – which was a total waste of time. I could never judge someone else’s artwork as finished or unfinished and neither could someone else judge mine the same way, but none the less we all fell into that mentality. “Juxtaposition this, ‘offensive to feminism’ that”.

    If you really think about it, it’s a good thing if there are bandwagon jumping lazy devs.. it makes you work harder and that’s not always a bad thing. :) If one of them happens to be highly successful, you may not think they deserve it, but still respect why they were successful.

  • Snow

    Oops, grammatical error. Last sentence was supposed to finish with “but still,(comma) respect why they were successful.”

  • Anthony Flack

    Imagine how many more copies they might have sold if MS actually allowed those of us outside the main territories to access XBLIG.

  • paul eres

    or allowed achievements or online leaderboards for xblig games

  • Farbs

    It may not be a goldmine, but it’s enough to turn my head. Once I finish my current procrastiject I’ll check it out.

    Mmm shaders.

  • GZ

    Initially I had a lot of problems with XBLIG. After looking into and working with it for a while, I turned away because of what I was seeing with the market. Now that they have changed how it works and made it better, I think it’s an appealing solution for indies looking to sell their work.

    Especially with the long console cycle we’re seeing now, and a solid XBOX 360 user base, it’s a very attractive option. I still have some doubts, but I’ll be keeping a closer eye on it.

  • DragonSix

    “I enjoyed Z0mb1es, and really only bought it because it was a dollar and I figured what the hell.

    If this game was 5 bucks, even if it was longer, just from my point of view as an average casual xbox gamer I likely would of glossed over it and passed.”

    And I totally agree. Some 1$ games are quite nice and fun, but also having the option for bigger 10$ games would’ve been perfect for those who want to try a bit less shallow things.

  • cm

    I like how two of these apps appear to be vibrators.

  • Vania

    Those figures are very encouraging indeed.

  • d2king10

    To be completely honest, those sales figures really aren’t that impressive (the money that the developers got), except for a few of them.

  • nullerator

    I love how this service isn’t available in my country, so I can’t play anything that’s released for it. I love consoles.

  • Impossible

    @Paul Eres: Leaderboards would be a nice feature and I’d like to see them implemented, but achievements would be a train wreck. If you think XBLIG has too much weird crap now (massage games…) imagine it being a flood of “hit A to win 200 points!” games.

    Ideally the peer review process could filter out most of that, but it might still be difficult to police.

  • Ntero

    The thing that makes these figures look good, is that the general development time is measured in weeks or months rather than years. And teams are generally 1-4 rather than 20-100.

    It looks encouraging for one because it’s going up quickly, and two because most of those look like you would get a sizeable income making that your career.

    And then there’s the top of the pile. A Game with Zombies was a one man show, over a couple months and made an unbelievable amount, even if it had taken 1 year +.

    Overall it’s not promising if you are expecting COD:MW 2 sales numbers. Instead think of the groups and people that make XBLIG, and think of their other avenues. Even the lowest numbers on there are competitive to entry level game development jobs out there, and the top scores blow more corporate/proffesional programming job salaries out of the water.

  • Dodger

    This makes me curious. Are you people living in other regions (that cannot access XBLIG) paying for the Xbox Live service??? I can’t stand the Xbox Live service so I no longer pay for it nor do I care to game online with a 360, mostly because the service isn’t really a “service” at all… I’m wondering though, are you guys paying for this “service” and not even allowed access to simple extras such as XBLIG? What kind of access do you get? Are you only paying for the ability to play games online??? O.o

  • nobody2

    @Ntero Which is why XBLIG is a race to the bottom. There’s zero incentive to make a great game at the moment, rather than a mediocre game that was worth your invested time developing. The most well produced games are a gamble in numbers, and not even a good gamble. The number of people making more than an entry level salary is a dozen people.

    @Matt Sams Really, it’s a catch-22 that the XBLIG community is trying to improve the quality of games on the service, because that quality will likely be unrewarded. Maybe in a year that upward trend you speak of will be reliable enough to measure quality vs. sales, but I still feel sorry for anyone currently competing with RC-AirSim. It’s almost like good games are providing free publicity for crappy games. _XBLIG: Come for the quality, purchase the crap_

    Hacked together 8-bit remakes and experimental side projects are well served on XBLIG, which is guess why TIGSource is optimistic with these numbers. But in my opinion, funneling consumer money into shovelware games, which were previously free, brings everyone down.

  • Anthony Flack

    I don’t pay for the Gold service because it’s such a fucking rip-off. I don’t play much online, so for me all it really means is that my copy of Team Fortress 2 is functionally useless.

    But I *do* want access to the damn indie games, and I’m sure the indie game authors would also appreciate the opportunity to sell their games to a larger audience. We’ve been shut out for way too long; MS needs to get off their arse and open it up worldwide already.

    (Open up the service, I mean, not their arse.)

  • Ntero

    I feel you have it backwards. The situation means that there is Lots of incentive to put polish in your game. Because the few polished and clean games make 10-100x more money. It shows that people are willing to pay for XBLIG games, so long as the developers are finally ready to start being serious, and that a little extra work will go a long way.

    And expecting A+ quality items from professional development teams from XBLIG is a bit ridiculous. That’s why there is a LIVE Arcade. The professional teams take the professional route. XBLIG was introduced to help budding and interested developers try their hand at making games. And as the recent sales figures show, it’s at the point it can sustain itself, which is ALOT more than previous (the first sales figures 6 months in had the top seller at around 5000 units), so I expect to see many more polished titles with a higher incentive to rise above the shovelware.

    It’s also about the developers that understand their audience. People don’t want professional, sotry driven titles on XBLIG. They want time wasters, and party games. Unique experimental concepts are a plus, because it’s something that LIVE arcade doesn’t provide. yes, if you come looking for a game that plays like Dragon Age of L4D2 at XBLIG you are going to be disappointed. Leave the big budget genres with the big budget companies. But if you want a good little Shmup to play with friends(gamers and nongamers), or a nice little platforming game you can pass around, then check out XBLIG.

  • Derek

    Yeah, I’m totally with you, Ntero. From this report it feels like XBLIG is ready to blow up with some high-quality but simple concepts.

    I hope people buy the hell out of Flotilla when it hits XBLIG (if it’s as good as it looks, of course).

  • Adam Coate


  • nobody2

    @Ntero You talk like 100x a 100 bucks is significant for a few months work. Again, only a couple dozen groups will get 10k dollars, and some of those projects have more than one dev.

    And you’re wrong that polish means more money. For every decent shmup platformer making money, like Miner Dig Deep, there’s a POS like Who Did I date. Weapon of Choice didn’t even make enough money to pay for a month’s worth of each of the dev’s bills, and they’re what you’re calling a success for a polished game?

    Really, most of the games making over 10k are total crap, worse than a student’s work. Are we even looking at the same chart, where Headshot is #4?

  • Dodger


    I think the whole point of XBLIG is that *Anybody* can contribute there work to it… That is part of the problem, but it’s also a freedom for XBL gamers if they choose to buy those POSes (I agree with you that most of them are POSes). The problem is the whole service is a mess. The first thing that needs fixing is the entire XBL service. Clean up the service, in fact, make it free. Then charge people real money for XBLA and XBLIG games instead of the imaginary point system that Microsoft thought would be a cool idea. If you’re going to have points as a currency then do what you said you were going to do in the first place and give reward points for people accomplishments and participation in games and other XBL features and events. The entire system blade needs cleaning up, and give the damn marketplace a clean overhaul and give the gamers more choices on optional filters (not just opt out of marketing options – or chat privacy settings, give them game related filtering, aside from parental features). Finally, make the services available across the board (around the world). I understand that some movies and games can’t be released world-wide, but the services that contain those extras??? How does it make sense that other regions don’t have access to services such as XBLIG. It just doesn’t make any sense. This stuff needs fixing though. XBLIG may only be a chunk of the XBL service, but it’s a bloody awful mess beside another mess. It isn’t right that Microsoft should charge for this mess, but if people are willing to pay for the mess then it obviously won’t get cleaned up. Those paying customers should demand better service though. Since it’s very hard to do that alone and since I have contacted the inept tech support on no less than 5 separate occasions, I have opted not to pay for the service any more at all and even get rid of my system. I had fun with the games, and there were plenty of great XLBA and some good XBLIG games to play, but the entire service just wasn’t worth it, not when I can get equally good indie and casual games for my PC without having to pay a unscrupulous company for their online “service” first.

  • Charlton heston

    Is ther a more ocplete list? I’d like to know more, including the revenue of some high profile games such as venus flytrap or space giraffe

  • Dodger

    @Charlton heston,

    Space Giraffe wasn’t an XBLIG game, it’s an XBLA game. The difference being it went through microsofts certification process and it has achievements. Though it could be considered an indie game it does not fall into the indie game line up on Xbox Live. I have no idea what the sales are for it, but I can only assume that the sales were extremely weak based on Jeff Minters’ own disappointment in sales. I wonder what the trial download to purchase conversion was though. We could only guess but based on Minters reputation perhaps that helped the sales somewhat… That’s only speculation though.

  • Anthony Flack

    The other difference is that I can actually play Space Giraffe if I want to.

  • Dodger

    @Anthony Flack,

    You mean because you can’t access XBLIG in your region?

  • greg sergeant

    If anyone else is reading this and thinking:

    “holy fuck, that zombies game made over $100,000…”

    and you happen to have XNA coding experience/interests.

    check out my art/animation:

    i would be very interested to hear from you, to collaberate on a game :)

  • Matthew

    Nooooo. Slingstar was robbed!