Last month, we covered how Microsoft is reversing their self-publishing stance on the Xbox One. At that time, Microsoft promised that more details will be shared at gamescom 2013. Today at gamescom, Xbox Vice President Phil Harrison announced details on their self-publishing program, Independent Developers @ Xbox (ID@XBox).
Currently, every game on Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) require a publisher, either a third-party like EA or Microsoft’s first party publishing arm, Microsoft Studios. Microsoft also enabled self-publishing by means of allowing game developers use retail kits as development kits and the Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG) program. But these game developers who decide to self-publish do not have access to tools such as Kinect, Achievements or Gamerscore. On top of that, gamers have given feedback that games can be hard to find on XBLIG.
However, ID@XBox aim to change all of that. ID@XBox will instead enable game developers of all sizes to build, publish and sell their games digitally on the Xbox One. Games which come through this program will have access to the same exact features as any large game developer; features such as Achievements, Gamerscore, Kinect, Xbox SmartGlass and Xbox cloud services. Furthermore, all Xbox One units sold as launch can be used as development kits.
To address the issue of games being “hard to find”, these games will be available to gamers in the same exact marketplace with every other Xbox One game that is available, the Xbox One Store. Microsoft believes that this will enable discovering indie games much easier as players will also be able to use all curation and discovery tools the Xbox One will offer; tools such as Spotlight, Trending and Recommendations.
While it may sound foreign and wildly complicated at this point in time, know that Microsoft is trying to make indie games much more available and accessible to gamers who adopt their platform. While it is still early to judge if their program will work, it does seem like Microsoft is at least taking a step in the right direction with ID@XBox.