Today at Gamescom Microsoft provided more in-depth details about their ‘Independent Games @ Xbox’ plans and explained how you become an indie developer for the system and what that means.
The initial process begins like this: If you want to be an independent developer on the Xbox One you can apply here at www.xbox.com/id, then once accepted you will receive two dev kits from Microsoft for free. However, at the start of the consoles’ life not just anybody will be accepted into the ID@Xbox family. Microsoft’s Chris Charla explained:
“We’re going to start with developers who have experience shipping on consoles, it’s not totally trivial to ship a console game. We want people who are going to be comfortable shipping on console.” When asked how they’ll define an independent developer, Charla said, “We see great independent creators at every single scale. And you’ll see us support the program that way, from individuals up to really established studios.
“One thing I can tell you is that Microsoft is not going to weigh into the debate over who’s an independent developer and who’s not an independent developer.”
It seems that Microsoft are going to start slowly by allowing only experienced developers to make games for the system, however once you’re in the ID@Xbox system there are no limitations on what games you can make, you will have access to everything. Chris Charla continued:
“These are full games. If you’re in this program, there are no limitations on the game that you’re making versus a game that somebody working with Microsoft Studios would be making or that Activision or Electronic Arts would be making. Access to cloud services, Kinect and Xbox Live toolset such as Xbox SmartGlass, multiplayer, Achievements, Gamerscore and more.”
One negative thing about this is that Xbox ultimately decides the retail price of your game. Almost all other systems allow the developer to set the price and this could be a huge con for independent developers who want to develop for the system.
One huge point that wasn’t detailed was Microsoft’s ‘every console is a dev kit’ feature, it seems that this feature will not be available at launch but that it is still a massive aim for them in the future.
Overall this system sounds promising and I hope that it encourages lots of developers to start making games for the Xbox One. Let me know in the comments what you think about the ID@Xbox plans and whether you think they’re good enough to persuade indie devs over to Microsoft’s corner.