Microsoft outlines Xbox One indie dev program

Applications now open for Independent Developers @ Xbox program; priority given to established developers; no fees whatsoever.

Today at Gamescom 2013 Microsoft announced the Independent Developers @ Xbox program, the company's all-new policy that will allow any developer to self-publish on Xbox One.

The announcement comes after Microsoft reversed its stance on independent publishing policies last month, confirming that all studios can self-publish on Xbox One.

Today's announcement details the program at length and provides a vision for where it will head in the future.

On Xbox One, all games will be housed together. Gone is the "Indie" section from Xbox 360. Microsoft claims, though, that games won't get lost in a sea of content thanks to greater discoverability through "rich search programs." Editor's Picks and Trending sections will highlight certain games.

"All games are treated equally [on Xbox One]," Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten told GameSpot. "It's not like 'Oh, I have to go to the Indie section.'"

Every developer accepted into the program will receive two development kits at no cost. Whitten said additional kits can be purchased, but he declined to discuss pricing information.

All independent developers will have access to the same benefits developers have today, including the "full power" of the console, as well as cloud services, Kinect, and features like SmartGlass, multiplayer, achievements, and Gamerscore.

Leading the Independent Developers @ Xbox program as director will be Chris Charla, who previously held the title of XBLA portfolio director at Microsoft. He will oversee the program and work with developers as well as a staff of community managers.

"He loves games; the people and the space," Whitten said.

Applications for the Independent Developers @ Xbox program are being accepted beginning today at www.xbox.com/id. Acceptance into the program will be granted with priority to "qualified" developers with a "proven track record" of shipping games for console, PC, or mobile.

According to Whitten, a "qualified" developer is defined as an outfit that has "established themselves in the indie community" and have "made great games" and have "exciting ideas."

No application or membership fees will be charged and there will be no extra costs for game certification or title updates. Microsoft stopped charging fees for patches and updates on the Xbox 360 earlier this year.

The initial phase of the program will launch this fall.

Looking ahead, Microsoft reiterated its long-term goal is to enable every Xbox One console to be used as a development kit, though Whitten declined to say when this might happen. "Our focus right now is more on the people that have experience because we're learning at the same time," he said.

Regarding the revenue share Microsoft will have in place for independent Xbox One developers, Whitten said "it's the industry standard. It's not different for this set of creators than other creators on the platform."

Overall, Microsoft's new Xbox One independent policy will be shaped by the developers it serves, Whitten said. "I think that's critical," Whitten said about changing and evolving the program over time based on feedback.

"I don't think there's any other thing we can do."

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Discussion

101 comments
ahmad1080
ahmad1080

Good, My project Starts on 2014

Ultraviolence
Ultraviolence

This XBOX release is the absolute worst mess of misinformation and reversals of policy. I was sure that Microsoft would nail down a better process for conveying information about the XONE. But we're finding the complete opposite. And quite honestly, all of these on-the-fly changes have made me seriously consider purchasing the PS4 instead. Make no mistake, I'm sure I'll end up with both consoles at some point... But I think a clear message needs to be sent to Microsoft this time around. We, the consumers, shouldn't have to put up with such a bullshit mess of policy reversals, rumors, speculation, and changes.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

Glad to see Microsoft ARRIVE at the same stance on indie developers as Sony has... a few years AGO.  Microsoft must be getting desperate. 

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Heh... Quite amazing really.  An article about the Indie's on the PS4 and all the fanboys accuse it of being the OUYA 2, or such comments as "Enjoy your indie games! lololololol!"

Microsoft speak about indies though and it's all praise...?

Can't we just all agree indies are good for the gaming industry as a whole?  Regardless of the console?

anybodykilla15
anybodykilla15

here is there indie plan ya'll ready? ok.....

"your game better sell this many copies because if not, our Kinect sensors operate independently of the system, and they will cut your fucking nuts off"

which is also why every xbox one still comes with the HAL - X100 , I mean kinect

SolidTy
SolidTy

Thank god for competition, M$ is making a lot of 1-80s due to Sony's policies, but it's for the best. This is good news for game fans the world over.

straightcur
straightcur

Lets hope some interesting games come out of this.  So far im unimpressed with the so called "big guys"

Xirtahm
Xirtahm

Hey GS, I have a question.  How much has Microsoft been paying you guys to get top article billing for weeks and weeks on end?  Every day, there's a set of new stories, and almost every day, the top story is about the XBOX ONE.

And many of them contain news as worthless as this.  Really?  OUTLINING their indie dev program?  That's more important than, say....  the Wonderful 101 cast possibly being full of Nintendo characters, or I don't know.... THE PS4 RELEASE DATE?

Can we say "biased" boys and girls?

Jetbigboss
Jetbigboss

microsoft is fucking greedy & money hungry fuck the Xbox one PS4/PC ftw

BestJinjo
BestJinjo

The story of 2013 - MS reversed all their stupid policies because SONY's approach made their strategy/policies look ridiculous. Thank god for competition!

hadlee73
hadlee73

Good times for indie devs. Soon the only thing they will need to worry about is not being tough enough to handle gamer feedback on social media :P

blackace
blackace

Well this is good news. indie developers will be all over this and the results of new games should start by summer next year.

WTA2k5
WTA2k5

It's great that they're putting all types of games in one shop area. They should, however, take all the terrible zombie games and Minecraft rip-offs and put them in their own section labelled "Garbage."

Hurvl
Hurvl

I agree with having no indie section. Indie games have become quite diverse, it's no longer a good way to describe a game by calling it indie, since indie games can be so many different things. It's like when I saw a label called "World Music" in a record store. Umm yeah, could you be a bit more vague, please.

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator moderator

I didn't watch the announcement  was at the park with my kids but I can't seem to figure out what this is saying. Anyone can publish to the One yet you have to apply and only indies with a proven track record get in? Am I missing something?

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

i liken the neverending struggle for dominance between microsoft and sony like a hardcore heavyweight boxing match

Vagnar
Vagnar

This is great news for indies. Though I'm hoping there'll still be a way to filter indie games (maybe a tag system?). I find myself gravitating towards indie sections in game lists because they tend to be a lot more interesting for me these days.

Chai_Tea
Chai_Tea

I'm not getting an Xbox One but I'm glad they reversed their indie policy.  Some of these Indie developers deserve to get their games to as many hands as possible.

u1tradt
u1tradt

It sounds great and all that there will be free dev kits and no more additional license fees on top of it no longer costing an arm and a leg to release title updates. I'm just wondering what's the catch? I don't mean to come across as pessimistic but it just seems too good to be true. 

They seem to be shifting to more of a 'free market' formula found on Flash gaming websites. Which can be hugely successful on a console provided its maintained efficiently but since it's Microsoft I just feel there's a catch somewhere that will bring the devs right back to Earth.

Riddick123
Riddick123

Good God, 10 out of the top 12 stories are all Xbox One stories.  Is there nothing else to report on?

johnman05
johnman05

Great move, Microsoft. Can't wait to hear for PS4 news, now. Ahhh, just a few more months and both consoles will finally be in my hands, along with my awesome PC. Life is Goooooooooood.

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

Ms are going to do better than people on here think. playstation fanboys coming on here trolling saying i am getting a ps 4 does not mean the ps 4 is going to come out on top. if people have any sense it will be about the games on the system rather than brand any way and at this point in time microsoft wins on games. that could change in the future and i am not getting next gen till next year so there is planty of time for them both to convince me but if i was buying right a way it would have to be x1. i mean come on dead rising 3  crimson dragon, kiler instinct and ryse are much better exclusives than infamous and killzone.

adroge1
adroge1

@Xirtahm Yes, you're not the only one who has noticed this. GS please stop with the worthless news and report on something else.

binbin90
binbin90

@Xirtahm noticed that as well, I usually thought an article gets top billed based on number of comments....

o016945
o016945

@Jetbigboss yep, and they are in business to profit, and they are a currently profitable company. You're going to see Sony push programs that enhance their profitability, as currently, they are not a profitable company. You're slowly seeing it with Sony adapting the pay to play online model. Welcome to your new and eventual "greedy" practices. Also, welcome to the reality of continuing a business.

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

@tommy_boy9999 I think they forgot to remove this article since Eddies payement (just assuming) is based on number of comments in his articles...thus his obviously flaming article titles lol

BestJinjo
BestJinjo

@Hurvl Indie titles means games made by Independent developer -- i.e., they do not have a publisher like Dice has EA. They sell games directly to the distributor like Steam or on Sony PSN. 

Vegeta-sama
Vegeta-sama

@Sefrix The concept is exceptionally interesting for developers who can leverage the full social features of the system as well. If you're an influential gamer you may find that companies will simply give you game in return for putting in a certain amount of time into that game.

StHapns247
StHapns247

@Sefrix They seem to only be giving priority to established developers, but everyone who applies will be able to get their dev kits. The big point still being that it is free of charge.

It wasn't clear of they would reject applications for certain reasons, but I am sure that if I applied I would not get in as I have no experience or intention to actually make a game, haha.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@KimCheeWarriorX Never been interested in boxing, perhaps that's why I only play games on PC, heh.

Vegeta-sama
Vegeta-sama

@Vagnar the main point is that Microsoft isn't making indies a secondary market... they will have all the benefits of big market publishers... also access to the social features... that could prove to be a huge boon. I wonder if Microsoft is going to make any of their analytical tools available for the indies so they can distribute free software to the users who seem to have the most influince

WTA2k5
WTA2k5

@u1tradt It wouldn't surprise me if they took a bigger cut of sales revenue than other distribution services.

SkyAboveThePort
SkyAboveThePort

@u1tradt Wait a bit, it's not that you can just sit down with a great game idea and start coding. You need to show a "proven track record" in the industry. M$ will hand-pick a few indie show-cases they consider salable. They will basically act as a publisher. "You want to be part of our indie program? Here are our guidelines.." Guess what that does to "indie"

Blue-Sky
Blue-Sky

@Riddick123 Microsoft have done a good job releasing info. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. After MS's disastrous reveal, everyone is interested in where they go from there. Since everyone else has already made up their minds about the PS4 there isn't much attention to it. 

It's Kind of like when a bad kid who grows more responsible gets more recognition than a kid who's always been good. 

allever
allever

@o016945 @Jetbigboss It's fine that a company is in a business to profit, but it becomes an issue when said company is going above and beyond to nickel and dime for every little thing they introduce.  Look at EA, Ubisoft, etc.. they all do this.. It's hard to respect a company that does this. 

Courtawulf
Courtawulf

@BestJinjo Even this definition no longer makes sense though. Because you have large companies like Valve who are technically "indie" because they don't have a publisher, but I don't think anyone thinks of Portal 2, Dota 2, counterstrike, etc. as "indie games". 

Hurvl
Hurvl

@BestJinjo But as a genre, as a way to describe a game it's quite useless. If you just say it's an indie game, you only have a small understanding of what kind of a game it is. I don't know how they sort games in the Xbox catalogue, but if it's via genres, then "indie" doesn't make sense, because indie games are so different from one another.

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

@Hurvl @KimCheeWarriorX im not really big on boxing either, not much of a sports guy. it was just the metaphor that popped into my head at that particular moment. oh, and i also play games on pc too. consoles games and pc games both have their strengths and weaknesses.

u1tradt
u1tradt

@SkyAboveThePort @u1tradt Fair point but what about in monetary terms? Those developers seem to be paying less one-off fees and the revenue source for MS seems to be predominantly from sales. But that just sounds too good to be true.

Also, PC indie devs will have an easier time porting their games over so I imagine MS will be focusing on devs with a proven track record (i.e. with a sizable following) on PC.

Riddick123
Riddick123

@Blue-Sky @Riddick123 That's fine, but let's quit having an Xbox One hype party.  Has to be other things to report on and talk about.  Hell they could condense most of these stories down to 2 or 3.

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

@Hurvl @KimCheeWarriorX i started with console games back in the late 70's and back then computer games werent exactly "high tech" if you know what i mean so i will always game on consoles because its where i started

Hurvl
Hurvl

@KimCheeWarriorX @Hurvl And I just happened to deliberately interpret it literally, it's more fun that way. 

Console and PC have their (dis)advantages, but my disadvantage is the backlog to end all backlogs, so I wouldn't have the time to play console games anyway. Then there's the economic question - buying two gaming platforms, buying games for them, but I mostly don't have the time/interest for console games.

u1tradt
u1tradt

@SkyAboveThePort @u1tradt Yeah, maybe someone will turn around in the boardroom and mention 'Hey guys! We're making less money upfront with this scheme!' and the policy change will come that shatters the indie devs' hopes.

SkyAboveThePort
SkyAboveThePort

@u1tradt @SkyAboveThePort That is probably true. If you do have a proven track record, you'll probably save some one-time fees, and don't have to worry about costs for pushing fixes/updates. If you already have a following, M$ should be happy with their 30 % cut off the sales, because sales there will be.

Different story with devs who want to release their first game, they'll still be left out of the platform. So is this policy really "indie" friendly or rather, "small established studios" friendly? I think it's good for small dev teams AND for M$ (because they can showcase game variety for their platform), but not for real indies..

But then again...LOL...every other day a new M$ policy change, maybe in a week it's all upside down again =)

o016945
o016945

@Riddick123 @Blue-Sky well, maybe other companies should offer something worth reporting. Everyone was awaiting a big Sony boom, and they offered very little.