It's been clear for awhile that Xbox has an indie problem , but 2D Boy's Ron Carmel (World of Goo) has published a further explanation over at Gamasutra . Along the way, he details how the experience of developing for Steam or the App Store differs from Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), and why that's motivating developers to take their games elsewhere.
Using a survey of indie developers he conducted for a 2010 talk, and another, more recent survey, Carmel shows just how alienated indie developers have become from Microsoft, and why it is so important to have an open, developer-friendly platform and marketplace. It's a great piece of analysis, well-worth reading in its entirety, but two items in particular stand out.
First, over 75 percent of the developers Carmel surveyed are developing or planning to develop for the PC. Mac and the iPhone/iPad follow close behind. The 360 is down below 25 percent.
Second, the most influential factor these developers reported using in choosing their platforms was "ease of working with the platform owner." The majority of developers (64 percent) rated Steam/Valve was "very easy" to work with. Forty-eight percent, however, rated Microsoft/XBLA as "excruciating." Carmel cited the legal wrangling and certification process required to publish on XBLA as two major obstacles for indie developers, ones that waste tremendous amounts of time resources.
Overall, Carmel paints a damning portrait of what is like for indies to do business with Microsoft, compared to the relatively hassle-free, developer-friendly procedures that Steam and Apple are quickly making the industry standard for anyone who wants to retain a significant presence in indie gaming.