Last week at Gamescom Phil Harrison from Microsoft revealed their plans for a new program to support independent developers on the Xbox One.
The new ID@Xbox program will give indie devs of all sizes the chance to self-publish their work on the next generation console and make money off of the product without having to run through all the red tape that is usually associated with self-publishing. It’s a solution to one of the biggest problems that indie devs face, and it’s a huge step forward for Microsoft.
In the past few years we’ve seen a rise in free to play games and indie titles that has taken the market by storm, but despite all this major publishers have made life difficult for the devs creating those games.
I wouldn’t say that it’s intentional, but rather new players coming to an old system and trying to make it work for them. We need to see an end to certain practices and begin to embrace new ones that will support more developers.
We’ve seen the likes of Steam Greenlight which has been a step in the right direction, but we need to see similar services available for consoles whilst they dominate the market as they do.
We’ve heard horror stories of indie publishing on the Xbox 360, with Microsoft forcing devs through an seemingly never ending reem of red tape, and charging them to patch their titles once they’d been published (FEZ comes to mind).
I didn’t think that Microsoft would ever actively support this new wave of indie developers, but obviously they’ve changed their minds for their new console.
There is a potential downside however. There are many amazing indie titles out there such as Bastion, FEZ, To The Moon, and many more. Conversely there are some that aren’t so great, some of which are buried in Steam Greenlight.
With self-publishing being available to everyone, there’s a chance that the pool of indie games could be diluted, making it even more difficult for fantastic prominent developers to make a name for themselves.
Even if that is the case, this is still an amazing step forward for Microsoft.
It shows that they’re willing to embrace the new gaming culture that is springing up, and that they’re willing to do away with more archaic practices in order to accommodate all the new developers that are springing up.