Microsoft has been rumored to be looking more deeply into mod support for Xbox One for quite a while, thanks to job listings we wrote about in the past. Now, thanks to some internal documents, we have a better idea of how Microsoft plans to turn Xbox One into a great platform for mods and for developers who want to allow mods in their games.
For those who don't know, mods are usually community-created maps, items, skins, and other in-game features that can be used to "modify" an existing game, primarily on Windows PC.
As of this writing, developers have to set up their own systems and services to bring mods to Xbox One. Halo 5 Forge, Fallout 4, and Skyrim Special Edition are a few prominent games that have their own modding systems, built by their respective studios. Devs, of course, will continue to be able to do that if they so choose, but Microsoft is setting up a system that would not only provide much of the infrastructure required to set up these features but also surface mods directly in a new section in the Xbox Store, similar to the Steam Workshop, to make them easier to discover.
Xbox Community Content
Expected to arrive "later this summer," according to the presentation, the new Xbox Community Content platform is a new infrastructure built for developers to help support user-generated content (UGC), or mods, within their games. Microsoft noted Minecraft's Partner Program and community marketplace as an example of how mods have improved the game.
If these plans go ahead, developers will be able to define what constitute mods in their games, as well as deciding monetization (or lack thereof). A developer might decide to only allow skins or texture updates but could also include gameplay-modifying features such as weapons, maps, or even full quests or campaigns.
There will be a space reserved on Xbox consoles for games that utilize Xbox Community Content, for downloading mods. Developers will also be able to assign metadata to mods to help with discovery via the Microsoft Store, Xbox Clubs, and social feeds.
These documents are from earlier in the year and note that a developer beta for the features would be hitting Xbox dev kits in March, with approved mod libraries going live later this summer. Future iterations of the service beyond this summer include full Xbox shell integration, showcasing mods directly in a game's store page, recommendations, commerce support for mod creators, ratings, and mod reviews, and website integration for viewing mods in a browser.
It will be up to developers to decide how to leverage these services, including things like content moderation, and whether or not they will allow paid mods. Microsoft is also placing strong emphasis on mod creators with this platform, giving them tools to promote their mods across Xbox Live's social features, with access to telemetry on how well their mods are being received and used.
Hopefully, we'll hear more soon ...
The Xbox Community Content platform sounds like an awesome step for everyone involved. Games with mod support tend to enjoy longer life spans, and some of the best mod builders out there have found paid work within the industry on the backs of their awesome creations.
As always, plans can (and often do) change, so hang tight for an official announcement. But considering how much work has already been done to set up these features, as well as job hirings at Microsoft, I'd say we should hear more about this new modding platform sooner than later.
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