Microsoft unveils the Xbox One self-publishing game program for developers

Microsoft has unveiled its digital self-publishing indie developer program for the Xbox One, essentially enabling developers to self-publish their work for consumers to enjoy on their consoles. The program is titled Independent Developers @ Xbox (ID@Xbox - (opens in new tab)) and the company promises a smooth experience regarding actual development, distribution and discovery of titles on the Xbox One digital store. Registration has opened today.

Chris Charla will be heading up ID@Xbox and has been curating Xbox Live Arcade games as the portfolio director since 2010. Working on really creating a solid bridge with indie developers, the new team reportedly met with over 50 developers to work out exactly what they would want out of a self-publishing program. Here's what Chris Hecker, developer behind Spy Party had to say on Microsoft's initiative:

 "I'm really excited that Microsoft has listened to feedback from developers and created this program. As an independent developer, I want Spy Party to be available to as many players as possible, and it feels like Microsoft is interested in not only removing roadblocks for indies to get their games on Xbox One, but they're also genuinely interested in finding ways to bring new and innovative indie games to their platform to help games reach their potential as an art and entertainment form."

The above is matched by support from other video game studios, including Splash Damage, Other Ocean, Team 17 and Dlala, each pleased with the approach Microsoft is taking. This isn't anything groundbreaking, though as competitors already offer such a service on their own platforms, but it's great to finally see Redmond taking indie development seriously.

Xbox One

Breaking down some walls

As noted above, ID@Xbox kicks off today with registration opening up for developers to apply at the website (opens in new tab). Should developers qualify, they'll be a registered Xbox One developer. Microsoft has stated there are no application fees, nor are any charges present for certification or updates. The company isn't accepting everyone into the program just yet.

Charla told Gamasutra that the team will "evaluate each application on a case by case basis. Making a console game isn't trivial so we want to be sure that they'll be able to create great content. However, our plan for the program is to eventually open up the platform to all creators. We want Xbox One to be a great place to not only consume content but to also create it." Sounds like a plan that will also be a bonus for consumers.

Developers who register with ID@Xbox will receive two Xbox One development kits (at no extra cost) and will receive access to the console's full features, as well as cloud, Kinect, Xbox Live and more. Revenue splits with published titles will be inline with what's expected throughout the industry (developers generally receive 70 percent of the cut).

As an added bonus, Microsoft doesn't require exclusivity agreements. All the company desires is day one parity with other console platforms. Not much to ask for really.

Community & game discovery

Microsoft will set up developer-facing community managers who will provide responses to submissions and offer support for the program. To build a strong community around ID@Xbox, numerous developer events will be held with gatherings to occur in Seattle, London and San Francisco. These events are said to kick off later this year.

Letting in a lot of content can cause issues for consumers who are attempting to search through and find something they'd want to purchase and enjoy. Here's how consumers will be able to look through the catalogue of indie games on the store:

  • Trending keeps your finger on the pulse of what friends and the community are playing.
  • Recommendations bring forward new games, based on what you like to play.
  • Spotlight showcases Editor Picks for great games across the entire store.
  • With Game DVR and Upload, new games will be found as gamers capture and share their videos across the service.
  • Achievements and Challenges enable developers and the community to create special events out of games.
  • Moving forward

Looking forward, Microsoft's "plan is to enable any Xbox One console to be used as a development kit for self-publishing purposes. This means that any hobbyist with a great game idea can make it come to life on Xbox One." It's looking bright for indie developers on the Xbox One.

via: Gamasutra

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Sweet, playstation 4 has pretty much lost any advantage it had over the XboxOne.
  • Sony does give away much better games.
  • *** In your opinion
  • They're temp. Of course they are better.
  • They don't give away games, they let you rent them for free.  It's like subscription music.. you need to pay to play.
  • Well the thing is that it did not have these problems to start with. MS has had to come down to fix them.
    In a other hand PS4 is cheaper and more powerful. It will also launch for 3 times larger market before Christmas. 
  • Hardware is only as good as the software it runs. Windows Phone should have taught you that concept.
    Microsoft is way better than Sony when it comes to software. Microsoft has the advantage.
  • But people care about Games in a console, since most of the time they won't rely on OS features. Although multiplatform games will be virtually the same on both platforms, with more horse power, Sony can make exclusive that will look much better than Microsoft's.
  • Software affects how games run and perform. IIf the Xbox one has better optimized software, they can have games that look better than the PS4, even with lesser specs.
    I don't think you understand enough about the subject on a technical level to understand what I am saying.
  • I understand enought to say that:
    MOV on any hardware performs pretty the same independent of OS;
    - Game engines are coded using low level programming languages.
    - BSD are also known for performing better than Windows;
    Believe me. Optimezed UI, File System, Memory Stream, won't help shit when its come to FPS rate.
  • funny story, windows is actually easier to use... BSD and windows comparison really don' t make sense here
    having a non-optimized UI certainly will make things worse btw... and it's frame rate not FPS rate, FPS just means first person shooter
    PS3 had (apparently) much better hardware then the 360, but the games usually don't look that much different, now the architecture on those were a tough nut to crack, but the different in terms of hardware between Xbox One and PS4 isn't exactly as big as some of you are trying to believe, end of the day, it might look a tiny bit better and that's a big may be
  • fps = frames per second
  • Based on what I see on PC games, I don't think it will look that much better. Does a game look that much better running on a high end video card compared to a mid range card? The frame rates are higher and there might be some extra detail that you have to look real close to see, but overall the game experience is the same. The human eye has a very narrow area of focus. We get a lot of detail in that area and everything else is blurry. There is a show on Discovery channel that talks about how the human brain is easily fooled because of these limitations in sight and the human brain's tendency to fill in gaps when there isn't enough info. A test the ran had a person focus on a sign in the middle and some cheerleaders on the sides. The person had to say whether the cheerleader was a guy dressed as a girl or an actual girl. They couldn't get better than 50% accuracy. So, you might have have better detail on the PS4, but your brain will never notice it unless you freeze the game and start looking around.
  • You've got a point here. But actually we have examples of how a small power disadvantage may trace the boundary between possible and impossible.
    I'm referring to FFXIV which is painfully playable on consoles, that a slightly stronger machine could make the experience much better. Not to mention Battlefield 3 limitations.
  • Sorry I meant to reply to the other guy :p
  • Microsoft certainly has the upper hand with software, and that is the exact reason I'm going with the xbox, but i doubt it will catch them up to the PS4 in performance terms. That said, I also dont think the difference will be that noticeable.
    The reason I want the Xbox is for all the additional software features like app snapping, far superior voice commands, and all the media features as my xbox is my HTPC. The HDMI passthrough, kinect, and possibility of windows 8 apps making the jump to xbox also factor in.
  • Can you please explain why exactly you want to be able to snap apps and do all that other junk on a gaming console? It's all gimmicks! "Oh, you wanna browse the internet? Lemme just whip out my Xbox One and look it up ten time slower than a phone, tablet, or computer."
  • That's a weak argument. Windows phone runs fine, but games lag (on my HTC 8X anyways). People care about hardware. And besides, the Xbox One's OS takes 5gigs from the GPU to run. That's ridiculous
  • So what, isn't the PS3 more powerful than the 360? It's all about software. Amateurs talks hardware, professionals talk software.
  • Yes, and the exclusives look better. The same will happen here, although this time non-exclusives could potentially look better too as the architecture is much easier. It's still the gameplay that matters most to me, which is why I'll likely get the Wii U this holiday, and wait for games and price drops on XBone and PS4.
    P.S. People, please do not try to bring up any "software optimization" -arguments here, likely there is no difference, and could possibly even be worse for XBone with multitasking etc...
  • In some areas, yes. In others (e.g. not sharing memory between CPU and GPU) the PS3 was at a huge disadvantage, and this hardware limitation isn't something that software can get around. Speaking as a software developer: hardware always produces a bottleneck, and if the software can't get round performance or architecture limitations, it then it can't get round it. E.g. PS3's Skyrim.
    First-party developers simply don't make games that hit these limitations, but then you just don't see games like Skyrim from them at all.
  • more powerful?
    that only shows you dont even know what you are talking about. maybe you should go back and learn a little? you just sound like a naive thinking raw specs translate automatically in how both consoles will perform. you know, they have different OS, and all.
  • Ok this "more powerful" argument is just getting annoying.. Go learn a bit about building a gaming PC, come back and look at the specs for both, then tell me about how it doesn't even make a difference.
    The PS4 and X1 are practically the same consoles, the real power will come from how they code that hardware to run efficiently.
  • Probably for those with no allegiance to either company. I would imagine if your into Sony's exclusives, PS4 still has the advantage and vice versa.
  • What about the advantage of not having to pay for a service in order to use built in features? Or paying for a service that you shouldn't be paying for in the first place.
  • Console wars are alive and kicking! Been enjoying this kind of banter over 30 years. :D
  • Sweet sweet sweet...can't wait
  • Team17 is on board? Ohh yea, give me some Worms on Xbox One!
  • Store design sounds like WP8.
  • WP8 requires a $99 subscription to apphub while Xbox One is free.
  • WP8 doesn't pre-screen developers. Am I the only one not thrilled by this? I had thought (being on the same kernel as WP8 and W8) that it would be a "$99 / your console is your dev-kit / publish to marketplace" type situation. This, this is not "really" (yes it is, *in before semantic assholes who pretend to not know what I mean) indie-development if they are looking for "people with Track Records of shipping titles to consoles." It *should* have been like the store design... it's not unfortunetly.
  • I guess they are limiting devs for the initial launch just like for win8. It will open up for everyone else later.
  • They limiting it for the purpose of not having some random games showup near launch that are completly shit.
  • Team 17. My friends have done work experience with them. Good on you Microsoft.
  • Hopefully they will do the same for WP Xbox games
  • I hope so.
  • MS is trying to correct the bad decisions they made, they are doing well, but I think Sony has a long way already won the fight because in Sony practically nothing has changed since the announcement of the PS4, MS has had to change almost everything. But that's good, MS is concerned and is doing great things now. Ps4 has been losing advantage? Maybe, but not lose all, is the most powerful console and best architecture of the two, with greats exclusives and made to play, as it should be any console.
  • Not the best architecture. The architecture of the two consoles is the same. And it's an architecture Microsoft has years of experience with. Microsoft knows how to build a better product when it comes to computing technology. They can make lesser hardware equal in performance through software optimization, an area where Sony isn't anywhere near experienced with.
  • You're right, what I mean by "architecture" is the hardware, the xone has a gpu capable of 1230Gflops, 8mb DDR3 RAM, the PS4 has a gpu capable of 1840Gflops con GDDR5 RAM and 8mb, and today the PS4 is 30% more powerful. If Sony makes the changes that MS has made the Xone (hardware&software), the PS4 would be almost twice as powerful. This is good for MS because it shows that he understood the player and what the customer wants and is trying to correct it.
  • 8GB and 50% more powerful. Software can not be optimized beyond a certain point, PS4 is very likely to have a more lightweight OS than XBone. The architecture also is not quite the same, DDR3 with a cache can be whole lot different from GDDR5 without, for good and bad. P.S. I think MS reacting to market reaction is good as well.
  • None of the exclusives were that compelling to me on the PS4. I have a 1st gen PS3 and might've used it for 50-100 hours total. My 360 has had 1000's of hours put on it. I dislike the PS3 UI & controllers... If the same games are offered on both platforms I prefer to buy games for the Xbox... Or on Steam for PC, if it's available. So you can't speak for everyone - I won't bother getting a PS4, and I doubt many of my friends will either.
  • Thats Ok, i like exclusive for both consoles... Im saving some money to try to buy both.
  • The architecture is exactly the same this time. Sony has some extra shaders and faster memory, but I don't think those things will actually make their games better. Most of the games will have the same level of detail on both consoles and the games that do choose to make use of the extra horsewpower on the ps4 might have better detail but the game experience will still be pretty much the same. Microsoft also has all those servers they set up and the developers can choose to use them to offload some processing to those servers to help with the game experience. That could make the experience on the xbox better. An example was Forza using the servers to gather info on real drivers to create AI drivers that behave like a real person. That can make a game more fun and create a better experience. You also can't disregard that when you are done playing games, all you have with the PS4 is a box sitting next to your tv. The xbox is an entertainment center that you will continue using after you finish playing. If those features they showed at the announcement work as advertised, it can make the xbox a very useful add on to your tv.
  • The entertainment center argument is the reason because my wife is ok with me buying the Xbox One. She even jokes giving voice commands to my 360 when I'm playing something.
  • Some people already have several multimedia devices and don't want another. I personally want a gaming console for gaming, and nothing else. Anything else is bloatware in my opinion
  • Right, I don't care unless they confirm .NET support!
  • Why would they get rid of that? Makes no sense lol. Xbox 360 indie development supported .NET.
    I'm sure Unity will support Xbox One. So therefore Xbox One will support .NET.
  • XNA is dead. I'm hoping they either replace it (good, cos XNA is awesomeor that Unity confirms support.
  • I'm positive they will. I think they know too many developers rely on object-oriented languages, but I guess you're right since nothing is confirmed.
    We will find out soon enough!
  • As ms said, if u can make games for win8, you can for xbone
  • All I needed to read was "achievements".
  • Well, Microsoft has struck a chord here. My mind was set on the PS4, but I'm not so sure anymore...
  • I like both, but I don't like how the Xbox One is a multimedia device. I've already got several of those, and I don't like that Microsoft makes you pay to use Netflix and other software. I'll probably end up getting both though one Microsoft realizes that the Kinect is a failure and releases a bundle without it
  • yay Lets bring crappier games to platform! obviously Microsoft is doing this so they have to, since they have to compete against PS4... but come on! how many "indie" games are actually good? like 1%! lol Of course at beginning games wont be so bad, but once they open it to "all creators" it will be worst than 360!
    again if you dont know what im talking about check videoes like this: if the games is not the worst crap ever, it will just try to put "huge boobs" so it will be still crap but some people will complain less about playing it. but really... alot of indie games they show, are about girls with almost no clothes because apparently developers dont have any more crap in their brains. of course it it doesnt have "sexy" content, it will be another bad game, with crappy animation, or really bad design, horrible modelling and textures and everything, or just controls will suck... its like being "indie" its just an excuse to make really crap games.
    I dont know... but if i could I would ban almost all indie games from xbox..... of course I have seen really good games (and not too bad games, you know, not amazing games but not bad either), but they are few! always few. I like this video! its funny :D
  • So what? If its crap, just don't play it. I don't see the disadvantage there. Lift great games to the XBL Arcade and let everyone who wants to post his 'crap' on the indie store.
    Where's the harm in letting people, which are just learning, program for the XBone. Me and my friend, too, are interested in making our own game for the XBOX. Just for fun.
  • and here comes the... replying to something he doesnt even get :).
    please just... please, next time you want to reply to a comment i meak, 1. read. 2. analyze it. 3. write an important reply that wont ruin my comment with your apprently non existent intelligence. so in other words, just please dont let me read one of your comments again.
    ok thank you very much.
    PS. I hope I will never find one of your crappy games, because I really dont see anything good coming from you :) oh and your friend... yeah your friend. probably imaginary friend
  • _Emi_ - not sure what exactly your issue is, but I agree that if you don't like indie games, then don't even open the indie store. No one is forcing you. Now move on!
  • I just love the interwebz
  • One thing I didn't really get.
    Will Microsoft always check the indie stuff, or only at the beginning. Because I really liked the old concept where really everyone who wanted to could try some stuff out.
  • Ok. I just read their site.
    Seems like they will try to open the process to everyone in the future.
    Imho it's a great thing that you'll have access to everything (like Kinect, Multiplayer and Cloud Saves). It would be great if they could keep this. They should also really expand this to the Windows Phone.
  • "This means that any hobbyist with a great game idea can make it come to life on Xbox One."
    And they can play test their game logic in the free to play Project Spark game :)