Original title: EDGE: Indies praise XB1 self-publishing – but MS must drop its launch parity policy
..Many indies have voiced their concerns over the clause, and even Sony has taken a swipe at its rival’s stance on indie self-pubishing – before GDC PlayStation’s VP of publisher and developer relations Adam Boyes tweeted a ‘list’ of platforms developers are not allowed to release their games on before they hit PSN. So, at the ID@Xbox event we asked corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Xbox division Phil Harrison if he’d seen the tweet, and what he thought of it.
“I laughed,” he said. “Taking aside competitive positioning and all of that, the winners in all of this are game players. 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.”
Harrison continued to stress the progress Microsoft had made with indies through the ID@Xbox program, but could not give any further update on when or if Microsoft might drop the launch parity clause. “It’s difficult to debate these kind of commercial relationships in a media interview so you’ll forgive me for not going into the details,” he said. “What I would say is that everybody in our program, whether it’s a developer or people on the platform side working with Chris [Charla, ID@Xbox boss] is committed to making sure the best games are on Xbox One. 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.”
Hyper Light Drifter creator Alex Preston is head of four-person studio Heart Machine. He told us that despite his presence at the ID@Xbox launch event, the game will be released on Sony’s platforms first. “Sony was great to us initially so I don’t think we’re going to push the Xbox version before we do the Sony platform versions,” he told us. “The parity thing is a problem. It’s not a good policy for Microsoft and I definitely don’t think it helps small developers. There’s not really any reason to do it and it’s one of those old relic things…I think we’ll see it disappear eventually.”
Drinkbox Studios’ Guacamelee has already debuted on PlayStation platforms, and a special edition is slated for release on Xbox One and Wii U. Studio co-founder Ryan MacLean summed up the thoughts of several other indie studios at the event. “From the perspective of a developer the ideal thing would be complete freedom to release on any platform you want,” he said. “I can kind of understand the platform holder’s preference – I guess they don’t want to be second in line.”
CEO of Divekick developer Iron Galaxy Dave Lang is in a similar situation. “We wanted launch parity – we’re a 70 person studio so we want to maximise our marketing money,” he said. “Getting the games ready all together isn’t the hard part for us, but I know that with someone like [Riptide GP2 developer] Vector Unit, there’s four of them – trying to get games to launch on multiple platforms at once is really hard.”
Microsoft has proven that it is able to listen and revise its policies throughout the lead-up to Xbox One’s launch, and our brief chat with Phil Harrison suggested that there’s still room for manoeuvre on launch parity. “The support we’ve got has been really gratifying and we continue to engage with the community,” he told us. “Chris Charla and his team are doing a great job listening as well as sharing, and continuing to refine and adapt our developer program so I’m really happy with the progress.”