Xbox One's controversial indie "launch parity" clause will continue

Microsoft gaming boss Phil Harrison says, "the winners in all of this are game players."

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The Xbox One's controversial "launch parity" clause for indie games--which requires games launch on Xbox One the same day they do on other platforms like the PlayStation 4 or PC--is here to stay. Xbox boss Phil Harrison told Edge in a new interview that Microsoft's stance that it will review publishing agreements on a case-by-case basis is not changing in the immediate future.

Microsoft's indie program, ID@Xbox, has drawn the praise of many developers, but some see the launch parity clause as thorny issue. "I can only speak for us personally, but simultaneously shipping is pretty challenging; you need a little bit more time and a bigger team," Super Time Force developer Capybara Games president Nathan Vella told the site. "I do think that it's not ideal."

At the end of the day, however, Harrison said he laughed when Sony's Adam Boyes took a shot at this policy and claimed there are more great games now than perhaps ever before, regardless of which platform you're playing on.

"Taking aside competitive positioning and all of that, the winners in all of this are game players," Harrison said. "There are more games coming out for these platforms, there are more developers creating for these platforms, there are more fresh minds coming into our industry than any time in recent memory. And that's so, so important to the future of our industry."

Finally, though Harrison wouldn't say if Microsoft is considering dropping the launch parity clause, he made it clear that bringing great games to the Xbox One is Microsoft's main focus.

"What I would say is that everybody in our program, whether it's a developer or people on the platform side working with [ID@Xbox boss Chris Charla] is committed to making sure the best games are on Xbox One," he said. "That’s our job, basically, if you boil it all down to the essence of what a game platform is, it's to make sure that the biggest, best, most exciting, most creative games are on your platform and we are working super hard to make that happen."

Yesterday, Microsoft promoted Phil Spencer to Head of Xbox, where he will oversee the entire Xbox platform. He has pledged to support core gamers going forward.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

114 comments
Relvar
Relvar

Sony is STILL going to lose this generation in the end. Just you watch.

randomoaf
randomoaf

No phil. You only want to help gamers who buy the Xbox. Not for gaming as a whole.  Such a clause wouldn't exist if MS cared about games and the game industry. 

atopp399
atopp399

Makes sense to ignore them and release only on ps4. Much larger user base anyway. If enough developers do that microsoft would change very quickly.

Biotasticmeat
Biotasticmeat

I don't see the problem with this honestly. I think Sony fanboys just like to complain. Its really getting quite annoying.

Daian
Daian

He's so full of it. It's hard for 1-3 people dev teams to program a game for several platforms at once, this clause will only alienate devs that can't afford doing this.

toddx77
toddx77

Wow someone is full of themselves.  Gamers have never been the winners when it comes it Microsoft's crazy policies on digital content.  Remember how Valve wanted to release the Left 4 Dead DLC for free on xbox live just like on steam?  Microsoft made them charge for it.  How do the gamers win in that situation?  Or take the Orange Box.  Team Fortress 2 never got all those updates on xbox because Microsoft wouldn't let Valve patch the game and add all the new content.  The PS3 version of Portal 2 came with a free steam copy and could do cross online play with PC and Mac while the Xbox 360 version didn't come with a free steam copy and couldn't do cross platform play all because of Microsoft's policies so I ask again, how do gamers win?

tigress666
tigress666

Uh, the only "winners" I see of the parity clause is MS and xbox gamers who like to brag they got the game first  (and even they may be losers if a developer decides to just skip xbox over that clause). So mostly just MS (but, I don't see this tactic failing for them either so I doubt they'll remove it as they really have no motivation to. But it's obnoxious that they try to claim this is some how a "win" for gamers. Actually, he tried to redirect attention to the fact lots of games are coming out and saying gamers are winners because of a totally irrelevant fact that had nothing to do with the initial topic).

ArchoNils2
ArchoNils2

No, gamers do not win, only MS thinks they win. But looking at the games that came later to the PS3 in enhanced form, having no so policy is actually better for the gamer and the platform

drysprocket
drysprocket

And like that- all of that good will that Phil earned with me this week, is gone. Not just for the policy, but for the gamer's win comment.


Phil, you're no different than anyone else at MS, and you can go eat a d*ck.

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

I'm not really seeing how gamers "win" with this, but I can see how it hurts indie developers who want to release a game on Microsoft's console but may want to get it running, stable, and feature-locked on PC first.  More than that, it seems to hurt Microsoft, as it's clear that a lot of developers would rather just never launch on the Xbox One at all than have to launch their titles on that console at the same time that they launch them on the PC.  It puts unnecessary stress on smaller dev houses that may not have the manpower necessary to launch and support games for three platforms at once.


This just seems like a pointless requirement that doesn't do anything beneficial for anyone.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

The winners are the gamers?  Heh.  Hehehehhe.  HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA

kahnseal
kahnseal

ms gives away the tools they need in return they only make sure their games launch on the systems at same time? how is that wrong? its not. yet devs have to spend money on dev kits from sony to make games. smh. sony cant do no wrong in the ponies eyes. obviously sony need all the money they can get because of that 220 credit score they have acquired. lmao.

TristanPR77
TristanPR77

Over 1,000 indies signed for PS4 and only 200 for MS.

That pretty much tells you how this generation will behave on the indi department. MS can keep all their clauses, they are only hurting themselves.

niknokseyer
niknokseyer

That's about right since ID@XBox gives out FREE Development Kits (2) and FREE Unity License. What's the problem releasing the games for them first since they gave you a lot of stuff for FREE.

xen0f0rm
xen0f0rm

Microsoft should keep this policy. If a dev doesn't want to release a game on the same day on all consoles then they can buy their own dev kits and release games whenever they want. If they willingly accept FREE dev kits (Unity license included) Microsoft asks that they release their game the same day on all consoles. This seems generous to me and people will bend and twist this against MS anyway possible.

TylerDurden83
TylerDurden83

"The winners in all of this are game players" 

Not sure if that's cinism, trolling, delusion.... or all of them

rasterror
rasterror

A very dumb and selfish move by MS. I hate the if we can't have it first then no one that bought an Xbox One can have either attitude. Please change this dumb policy.

FULGOREY2K
FULGOREY2K

april fools joke....all year long

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

"The winners in all of this are the game players."

How the sweet f*ck does he figure that one out?! Indies need to be encouraged as much as possible, they're the developers of the future.

Restricting them through parity clauses benefits no-one but Microsoft. If they were truly that bothered they'd offer them the Unity kit without the exclusivity nonsense!

Argh... Businessmen. That is all.

randomoaf
randomoaf

@drysprocket I think you're mistaking Phil Harrison for Phil Spencer. Phil Spencer has gained a lot of goodwill with me and continues to do so.  Phil Harrison (the guy that's talked about in this article) is a scumbag.

tigress666
tigress666

@drysprocket Just curious, what gained your respect earlier this week? That a Phil got head of xbox? Because if so, that's a different Phil to be fair (that one is Spencer).


I don't know much about Harrison except for he was with PS with the PS3 launch and xbox with the xbox one launch. Coincidental for sure but does seem kinda funny he's with each company when they have a launch with bad PR that pisses off gamers and doesn't go so well.

tigress666
tigress666

@ThePowerOfHAT Well, good news, it's only a console parity clause. MS isn't so worried about them releasing on PC first (after all, long as it is Windows, it's their operating system as well).

C_A_G_E
C_A_G_E

@kahnseal  You mention ponies as if your any better. You do know Sony gives out devkits as well? 


Why this is wrong is PC is included in the launch clause. There should not be a clause at all for self publish. 


I would like to see a even market. For indie games that are taking off and will turn into mid tier games i can see a landslide about to happen.  MS is shooting themselves in the foot and PS4 is getting the better of it. 

reacher42
reacher42

@niknokseyer  Its not even first it just needs to be released at the same time as other platforms

b00me
b00me

@xen0f0rm It's amazing how many people will try and say MS hates indies when they give 2 dev kits, a Unity License, and access to dedicated servers, all for FREE to indie developers. Sony does none of that, but it's MS who hates indie developers.

reacher42
reacher42

@rasterror  Its very reasonable since it only applies to devs that choose to receive the free X1 dev kits from Microsoft.

Jay2528
Jay2528

@warhawk-geeby Exactly, the parity clause benefits Microsoft (or anyone who decides to have a similar clause) not really the developers.

drysprocket
drysprocket

@tigress666 @drysprocket  I was just referring to the slight hope that he would do better in the role, and that his first statement was a refocus on gamers. I guess it was foolish of me in hindsight...good point.

tigress666
tigress666

@major_retard @TristanPR77As some one pointed out, today's indie developers are tomorrow's mid tier developers (and sometimes even AAA companies... EA wasn't always big ;). Nor where they always bad, they used to back in the day make good games). 


It's very short sighted to not want to support indie developers on your consoles. Having them won't chase away AAA developers, but it will add more variety and get their good will. And eventually some of them are going to have huge hits or grow bigger and put out games that are more popular to more people and they now have good will with the console.

C_A_G_E
C_A_G_E

@major_retard @TristanPR77  The indie trend is going to shape up into what gamers have been asking for. More diverse games and more mid tier games. 


Triple A games with huge financial risk ceeps publishers to relatively safe games most of the time. This whole indie movement and self publish opens the door for innovation again. I see it moving into mid tier games.  


Now if these indie devs start on one system they will continue on that system as they grow and release more content. 

C_A_G_E
C_A_G_E

@b00me  Makes no sense. Sony does provide free devkits and allows self publishing. Not making the comment to stick up for Sony just setting the record straight. 


Now this is bad for MS because PC should not be listed as same day release. If they want consoles then list just PS4 and Wii U. Indie developers will always choose PC first. If they have the resources then they may also choose consoles but that is a big if. 


Second why have any stipulations at all? More games the better right? 

I think they do this because they do not want to bid war they currently have for locking up DLC or some third party games to exclusive rights. 


No one else is following their lead though so they are on their own path. Steam, PC or Sony have no such stipulation. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@b00me It's not REALLY free if they require this, now is it?  It's like going to buy a car and them offering 0 %APR for 36 months - they're going to get you somewhere else.

xen0f0rm
xen0f0rm

@b00me  Shh don't say bad stuff about Sony you will wake the trolls   o.o


<.<

>.>

VI_timmy
VI_timmy

This needs to be stated more clearly in the article from the title it looks as if ms is giving indies the finger even though it's a fair policy if your accepting free kits. Very bad article trying to get its troll on. Chuck Norris does not approve.

rasterror
rasterror

True but still it is still a poor move.

xen0f0rm
xen0f0rm

@rasterror  If they don't want to be locked down they can purchase dev kits for themselves and release games whenever they want no matter what console.  The only thing this policy affects is if a dev WILLINGLY accepts FREE Dev Kits from microsoft and included is a Unity license. In return you release the game on Xbox at the same time as other consoles. That seems extremely fair to me.

reacher42
reacher42

@rasterror  How? Basically Microsoft is investing capital in an indie studio and the launch parity is the return.