Microsoft to Allow Indie Self-Publishing on Xbox One
After backtracking on the console’s always-connected DRM and hinting that they might find a way to bring back family sharing, Microsoft has made overtures to the developing community by changing policies to allow indie games to be self-published on Xbox One.
In announcing the not-so-surprising change in policy, Microsoft Xbox VP Marc Whitten:
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.
I just dumped that in to flesh this post out because Microsoft doesn’t have much in the way of new details. The only thing that we do know is that each Xbox One console can also be used as development kits which means they can be used for development and debugging/testing purposes.
As a result of the lack of details, we’ve already heard from indie devs who still aren’t sold on Microsoft’s change in policies. Young Horse Games president Philip Tibitoski was concerned about discoverability of games on Xbox Live which was an issue many indie games without Microsoft’s backing had on the 360’s version of Xbox Live. Retro City Rampage developer Brian Provinciano was unhappy that the Xbox One had hardware limitations compared to the PS4, including having to deal with Windows 8, and doesn’t see any improvements coming when dealing with Microsoft when putting games on Xbox Live.
At this point, I kind of wonder if these are legitimate cases of Microsoft listening to their customers and developers or if they were playing this road to redemption public relations long game the whole way. Rather than compete with Sony for dollars up-front, Microsoft could have decided to change policies along the way to win fans over the long-term with good press in the middle of the run between announcement and launch.
That’s a very cynical way of looking at Microsoft’s change in policies but I don’t think they’ve earned praise yet. Their DRM policies were aimed to punish consumers over the publishers’ money mismanagement (i.e. overspending on games development when compared to likely returns). Now they’re getting us to ignore how much access the NSA has to your Microsoft data and info through the Prism program.
Suffice to say, I won’t trust Microsoft or the Xbox division until they give me a reason to trust them. Then I can praise them for making the right decisions. But correcting bad decisions? That doesn’t deserve praise. That deserves a “Should’ve done that in the first place you morons.”