It's been well over two years since Xbox Live Indie Games were made available, and to this day they still retain a generally negative reputation. Despite a plethora of hidden gems and worthwhile ventures, there are simply far too many bad games flooding the market. Hypothetically, if Microsoft were to perform a routine cleanup of the very worst XBLIGs (like they once threatened with XBLA games) the service as a whole would likely receive more positive remarks. Though it definitely strikes against the norm, this is actually an article providing ways for Microsoft to generate more money. I like indie games, and I would love to see them become more popular. If more games are sold, then both the developer and Microsoft profit. Of course, what I really want is more Achievements.
Indie Games not having universal Achievements which are tracked and linked to your GamerTag is one of the silliest mistakes the Xbox brand has made. Many will argue that Indie Games retain a certain 'lower' class- “they do not deserve to have Achievements since they are of low quality and price.” Logically however, it makes no bloody sense. Microsoft (a business) values money and gamers are addicted to Achievements. You add Achievements, and I guarantee you that XBLIG will sell well over 1,000 copies almost immediately.
There are many things backing this idea of mine, for starters: Microsoft has sold Achievements in the past. Perhaps not so bluntly, but they are well aware that gamers will fork over some Microsoft Points if it means their online ego can increase.
Xbox.com Description for Crackdown 2 DLC: Deluge Pack
The Premium Deluge Pack features the complete Deluge co-op arcade mode where you defend the city zones against ever growing waves of Pacific City bad guys. Try it alone or with up to four players on Xbox LIVE for ever more demanding battles. In addition, the premium pack includes new achievements, avatar awards, and the sixteen-player Capture the Orb mode with 6 arenas.
While this expansion would have sold with or without Achievements, it's fairly obvious that it is considered a major selling point. This is only one instance of Achievements being marketed as a full-fledged 'feature,' though it's definitely been used far more than once.
The argument that XBLIGs are too affordable cheap to offer Achievements is also thrown out the window considering the relatively new Windows Phone 7. On the WP7 there are various games which offer a full 200 achievement points (ala XBLA games) for far less than an XBLA game might cost. Hexic Rush has an appropriate $3 pricetag, whereas Puzzle Quest: Galactrix costs a laughable $20. These are two very different games in terms of content, but the GamerScore is not reflected appropriately via cost. If a $3 game can have Achievements, why not a $1 Indie Game? Hell, there are some XBLIGs that cost over $5.
So for the sake of thought, let's say Microsoft forbids such an idea outright. Literally saying “Indie Games cannot have GamerScore, ever.” Why not something different? Indie Score perhaps. It doesn't necessarily conflict with the old system, and in the end it gives gamers a gigantic reason to try these smaller titles. Many gamers who rarely explore the XBL marketplace aren't even aware Indie games exist; but if you slap IndieScore on their GamerTag you bet they're going to want to know.
As of right now, there is very little reason to believe Microsoft has plans to implement any of these ideas. However a few weeks ago there was one image that caught my eye. This appeared on the Xbox Dashboard complimenting an Xbox help video for removing 0 GamerScore games for your GamerCard.
You may notice an out of place game, Champion Challenge. For starters, this game does not exist. It is not an Xbox Live Arcade, Indie, Windows Phone 7 or retail game. Yet it appears on a GamerCard with 36 Achievements and a gamer-tile featuring a basic Avatar face. This could be a WP7 game in the works, but why would they use an Avatar for the gamer-tile? Plus we would have heard something mentioned before. Most likely is that Microsoft didn't want to impose negative affects on any particular video-game, so they created a fake one for these purposes. This is complimented by the fact that in the video itself, Major Nelson deleted Dead Space: Ignition off of his list.
Personally I doubt we will ever see Indie Games as they are with Achievements. This is partially due to Microsoft's laziness & fear of change, and primarily because Beer Screensaver can only have one achievement: not buying the 'game' in the first place. Indie Games are stuck in a conundrum: to acquire Achievement rights they must first improve their reputation, but the quickest way to do this would be introducing Achievements (or regulations on what games are allowed). Still, I'm left wondering why Microsoft hasn't taken advantage of this simplistic formula.