In yet another major policy reversal, Microsoft has confirmed that the upcoming Xbox One will allow independent developers to create, publish, and sell games on the console’s online store. In an interview with Game Informer, Xbox One chief product officer Marc Whitten expressed his commitment to indie developers.
"Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox LIVE,” Whitten said. “This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox LIVE. We'll have more details on the program and the timeline at Gamescom in August.”
Each Xbox One can become a “debug console,” allowing anyone with enough creativity and ambition to develop their own games. Debug versions of gaming consoles, aimed specifically at developers, often cost much more than the standard retail version.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
“This would mean that any Xbox One purchased at retail could be authorized by Microsoft to play pre-release game code, thus making it much less expensive to develop and test Xbox One games since specialized hardware would not be required,” explained Wired.
The current Xbox Live Arcade requires that developers have a Microsoft-approved publisher, so self-starters have a history of feeling ignored by the gaming system. Indie titles are also buried in the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace, an unfortunate consequence of small-time developers refusing to sign contracts with big-name publishers.
Sony, on the other hand, has taken an indie-friendly approach from the start. “Sony has been allowing self-publishing onto the PlayStation 3 for some time now, and it's been able to cultivate a strong selection of indie titles by doing so,” said The Verge.
Will indie developers embrace the Xbox One now that Microsoft has pulled a one-eighty on yet another unpopular policy? Engadget reached out to some indie devs, and the feedback was overwhelmingly skeptical. The developer behind Retro City Rampage, Brian Provinciano, was unforgiving in his reply.
“While this is a great thing, it's again not the equivalent to what other platforms offer,” he said. “On PS4, for example, developers can tap right into the system; use every bit of RAM and all of its power. Indies have access to everything that the AAA studios do, from platform support to development and release.”
Provinciano continued, “After my experience working with [Microsoft] to release on Xbox 360, I have no interest in even buying an Xbox One, let alone developing for it.”