And the Xbox One policy reversals continue. Or can we chalk this up to Microsoft explaining things a little bit better? Whatever the case may be, this is good news: indie developers will be able to self-publish on Xbox One consoles, bringing Microsoft’s indie policy in line with Sony’s much touted indie dev love on the PlayStation 4. What’s more, Microsoft has confirmed that every Xbox One console will be able to be used as a development kit, obviating the need for developers to apply for and acquire separate and specific development consoles.
This news originally surfaced as a rumour on Game Informer, but shortly after their article went live, Microsoft’s Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten reached out with the following statement: “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. 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.”
Insofar as Xbox One devkit functionality is concerned, that feature won’t be ready at launch but will be added at a later stage. Game Informer pressed Whitten for more information on this matter, especially with regard to security considering all Xbox One consoles will then have the ability to play unfinished code. In response to security concerns, Whitten said that that kind of thinking is as if “you’re looking through the lens of how Xbox 360 works”. Because Microsoft is adding this devkit feature at the start of the Xbox One’s lifecycle, there’ll be security measures “baked in at the beginning”.
On the Xbox 360, indie developers had to publish their games through an already established publisher or through Microsoft directly. This was an expensive option that detracted from the ethos of indie development to begin with. Smaller developers could upload their XNA developed games to the Xbox LIVE Indie Games marketplace, but game exposure on that marketplace was pathetic. That will change on Xbox One as well:
“My goal is for [indie games] to just show up in the marketplace,” Whitten explained. “Of course there will be different pivots inside of that. There will be everything from what are we curating, kind of like spotlight content, to the normal discoverability stuff like recommendations, what’s trending, what’s got a lot of engagement on the platform. And you’d be able to find that content in any of those. There wouldn’t be any difference based on what type of game it was.”
It’s all sounding like a much friendlier environment for indie developers. It also goes to show how both Microsoft and Sony are terrified to release consoles with vastly differing policies unless they end up alienating portions of the market. I guess we’ll just have to continue to rely on Nintendo to give us the “different” console experiences.