In a complete reversal of its previous policy, Microsoft opened the door yesterday for independent developers to use the Xbox One’s hardware as a development kit, allowing them to create and self-publish original games in the Xbox Live Marketplace.
In a statement to Engadget, Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten said:
“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.”
Whitten told Game Informer there would be no restrictions on the types of games or their scope, and the revenue split between Microsoft and the developers of Xbox Live Marketplace sales would be approximately 50/50. It’s also not clear whether Microsoft will charge developers to publish their games directly.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for indie developers, though. Many are still skeptical of Microsoft’s change of heart. Engadget reached out to developers liked Young Horse Games and Pocketwatch Games, whose representatives are hopeful but cautious, and were also bitter over frustrating experiences with independent development with Microsoft in the past.
Brian Provinciano, developer of Retro City Rampage on Xbox Live Arcade, said he was very happy to see Microsoft change its tune, but the development process and support it’s offering is still not up to par with what other platforms like the PlayStation 4 can offer.
Microsoft also announced the Xbox One will come equipped with a developer debug unit, running in-progress game code to reduce developer costs. According to DailyTech, though, the developer kit functionality won’t be available at launch, so despite all the promising features of the new Xbox One policy, most indie developers are practicing one simple strategy: wait and see.
The Xbox One is set for release this November, priced at US$500.