Despite earlier comments, Microsoft may bring an App Store-like policy to the Xbox One, letting independent developers self-publish their own games.
Citing unnamed sources, Game Informer claims Microsoft will announce the policy shift sometime in the near future. Previously Microsoft indicated that it would require publishers for every game released on the Xbox One, shutting out smaller developers who can’t or don’t want to make deals with Microsoft Studios or one of the major publishers to release their game.
Microsoft’s new strategy would let independent developers submit their games to Microsoft for approval like app developers submit iOS apps to Apple. After gaining approval, which will allegedly take just 14 days, developers can set their own release date and price for their game. That’s good news for developers who don’t want to wait for an open slot in Microsoft’s release schedules, and just want their game out when it’s ready.
On the Xbox 360, Microsoft lets independent developers release games through the Xbox Live Indie Games channel that’s hidden away behind a series of menus. On the Xbox One, the company will no longer distinguish between retail and downloadable games. If that applies to independent games, it means indie developers may get much more exposure than they do now.
At E3, Sony touted its self-publishing platform and its close ties with indie developers during the PlayStation 4 press conference. The company brought eight developers on stage to show off their games including Transistor, Octodad, Don’t Starve and OddWorld: New ‘n’ Tasty.
Microsoft may have a chance to steal some of the indie attention from Sony with a self-publishing platform, however. The move may convince some indie developers currently developing games for the PS4 and PC to look into bringing their game to Microsoft’s next-generation console as well. That means more competition and a greater variety of games on both platforms, which is good for gamers.
The Xbox One will launch this November for $499.99.
Update: Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of Xbox confirmed that Microsoft will, in fact, allow self-publishing. The company will also let developers use any Xbox One as a development console, eliminating the need for debug units, which will cut costs and frustration for indie developers. The full statement from Whitten says:
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.