Xbox One's Parity Clause Meant to Make Owners Feel "First Class"

Phil Spencer discusses Microsoft's policy of requiring that indie games launch on Xbox One at the same time as on other platforms.

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Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has further elaborated on the purpose of Microsoft's controversial indie parity clause, which requires that indie games launch on Xbox One at the same time as other platforms, saying it's meant to make Xbox owners feel "first class."

"The thing I worry about is--because I look at all the people who buy an Xbox, and they invest their time and their money in Xbox One, and, as millions of people obviously own Xbox Ones, I want them to feel like they're first-class, because they are," Spencer said on The Inner Circle podcast. "When a third-party game comes out, it comes out on all platforms at the same time, and when indie games come out, I want them to come out and I want Xbox to feel like it's a first-class citizen when an indie game launches.

"So, for me, the parity thing is, if you own an Xbox One, I want to work for you to make sure that when great content launches, if it's coming to Xbox and another platform, that you kind of get it at the same time everybody else does," he continued.

"I don't want somebody to come in and just think 'I'm going to go do a special game on one platform and then I'll get to Xbox whenever I get to it,' because I don't think that's right."

The parity clause has been a contentious issue, with some developers speaking out against it and even Sony taking a shot at it. But Spencer insists it isn't a blanket, uncompromising policy that will negatively affect indie developers if it's simply a matter of them not having the resources to develop on multiple platforms at the same time.

"That said, I have a lot of friends that run small indie studios, and I get that timelines around when--they just can't get both games done at the same time, all three games, all four games, depending on how many platforms they're supporting," Spencer explained. "So I always just say, 'Let's have a conversation.' And it's worked; today, I think we've done a good job of working with the indies on, when they've had parity concerns, if it's just a dev issue for them."

If it isn't a matter of resources and a developer is making a conscience decision to favor other platforms over Xbox, that's where Spencer takes issue.

"But I don't want somebody to come in and just think 'I'm going to go do a special game on one platform and then I'll get to Xbox whenever I get to it,' because I don't think that's right," he said. "And I think, as Xbox One customers, we want good games when they come out on both platforms. But I also get that, hey, for some guys, they just can't afford the time to get both done, so we've just entered into conversations with people as they're launching, and I feel pretty good about the plan."

Despite that clear stance, it's possible things could be changing. Spencer's comments on the podcast resulted in new criticism of the parity clause on NeoGAF, among other places, a fact which was brought to his attention on Twitter. "I see the feedback on my stance on the clause, I want to rethink how we approach this, responses are heard," he said in response.

This is, of course, no guarantee that the parity clause is going away, but critics will no doubt be pleased that Spencer is at least entertaining the notion of making changes.

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svaubel

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So many stupid rules. If I was an indie dev I would stay as far away from MS as possible.

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sladakrobot

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Really?
Like:Hey MS,gimme free dev kits and the support...i might make a game for the X1...if i have time...and money

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swedishfriend

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> The time is the biggest factor why smaller developers cannot release games on more than one platform at a time. More restrictions is huge for a smaller developer. PS4 is getting games that were on PC years ago and benefits from those games and the developers benefit from the sales. MS is just limiting the number of developers that will even have a choice to put their game on XBone.

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EpicJ88Z

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All they asked was it release in. It's platforms at the same time wtf is so bad

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RossRichard

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No, it is meant to take away any advantage Sony would have.

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swedishfriend

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<< LINK REMOVED >> If that is what is meant to be the result then this is the dumbest move ever. Less restrictions and a friendliness to developers of smaller products is Sony's advantage. More restrictions to the point of making it impossible for smaller devs to put their game on the XBone does not counter that advantage. In fact it makes Sony's advantage larger.

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normanislost

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So what about those small indie teams that build their games on PC and focus on porting them else where when the games finished? How is that "unfair"?

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Millard11

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Then you wouldn't have signed a contract with Microsoft from the start. You wait and see what contract would be offered to you later down the line for your game.

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Gooshbacca420

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MS did this to us on the PS3 all last gen w/ COD DLC. Now the shoes on the other foot and they're crying. Truth is they don't care about gamers, only themselves.

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swedishfriend

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<< LINK REMOVED >> They wanted their customers to get the best experience just like what they are saying they are doing with this new policy. Completely consistent.

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Vodoo

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Doing it with dlc and full games are two different things.

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LightRukia

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<< LINK REMOVED >> They still did it with indie games last gen.

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isshiah

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But buying out games and making them be temporary exclusives is perfectly fine.

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swedishfriend

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<< LINK REMOVED >> MS does that and this new policy for the same reason: they want their customers to feel special. This new move is completely consistent with their previous exclusive deals. It is all about having an advantage over the other console.

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xboxonly1

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Actually if they hadn't brought out titan fall then titanfall wouldn't be on any platform sony turned down the chance to bail Respawn entertainment.

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deactivated-5a1d4b615a3a3

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Of course it is, everyone does it

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Celsius765

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I think MS does it more than anyone else

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deactivated-5a1d4b615a3a3

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Why not if you have the money, saves wasting money on the overheads of recruitment, development and resources etc

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Celsius765

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@pspearman @Celsius765 @isshiah Because nurturing inhouse development is helpful in the long run as opposed to taking this short term route. Besides MS is richer than nintendo and sony, they don't really need to. I mean look at Nintendo they'd have been gone a long time ago without a strong first party

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translucent17

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Nothing is "first class" about the xone

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barleybosh

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Actually it is. I bought a PS4 and the UI is worse than PS3, and I feel completely alone on it despite the 'social' aspectaspect (which is p*ss poor I might add.) I wish I would've bought an XOne. Also, all the PC ports I've been playing are worse than console editions. God damn PC is treated poorly by devs. So yeah. Xbox One is seeming pretty first class.

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jtthegame316

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<< LINK REMOVED >> xbox one is a great system you would not regret the swithch and even if you are not a fan of kinect get it away as it is great navigationn tool and of courrse allows you to have the ability to do everything the box can do

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swedishfriend

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Everyone is complaining about the PS4 interface so you are not alone. They are also saying that the XBone is worse.

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junoh315

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<< LINK REMOVED >> There are only a few PC ports like that and you'll find that they're only from EA and Ubisoft. All other titles tend to run just as good on PC but with more settings.

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Tomahawk08

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<< LINK REMOVED >> the UI is smooth as butter.

get some friends.

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Dissentioncc

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Feel completely alone? lmfao...wow.

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punisher2k8

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Nope.

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andrew_ribbons

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You'd have to be pretty damn biased to not see the point of this. Of course it makes sense that if MS are supporting Indie devs, they're going to want to see them developing for their platform first. It's the same with any agreement or contract. We give you resources, you work for us.


I cannot see the problem with this. If the Indie Dev doesn't want to develop for X1 in a reasonable timeframe, then of course they can't also have the nice resources as well. You can't have your cake and eat it.

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RobDev

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<< LINK REMOVED >> indies have limited time and resources. this is not about making a game in a reasonable timeframe but making it available AT THE SAME TIME!! Now if i was an independent i would look at the massive gulf in the sales figures and look to focus my costs on the PS4 version first. If that did well then i would take the profit and make a xbox version. This will mean they will not be able to do that. Unless of course the pS4 version is very popular, then i;m sure Ms will make exceptions.

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swedishfriend

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<< LINK REMOVED >> The big deal is that most smaller developers cannot afford to develop for multiple platforms at once so this move by MS will alienate many developers and it gives Sony a bigger advantage. We talk about it because it looks like another huge blunder from MS.

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aTornSock

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Not really. For a lot of companies, they end up just making the game without releasing it on the X1 at all. You may be okay with that, but I can't see how most gamers would be okay with less games, lol.

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bejito81

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Microsoft is just full of shit, once users will complain they can't have the game because of some stupid policy, Microsoft will change its policy like they did at the presentation of X1 and chef changed everything one week later

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swedishfriend

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<< LINK REMOVED >> They held out for months... The moment PS4 pre-sale numbers were revealed and it looked like the numbers were 5 to 1 in favor of the PS4 is when they went back on their policies.

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CruorComa

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I feel really bad for XB1 owners. This means no "No Man's Sky" or any other indie title that releases on Steam or PSN first.

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EpicJ88Z

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It can still release on xbox one

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nikon133

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A bit of bullying from good old MS. Some Indies are one man band, and most are workforce limited. I would expect many of them need to release on one platform and start making money before they can focus on porting. Since they can't afford to develop on both platforms at once, with this move MS is effectively forcing them to develop first for XBO, even if they'd rather do first platform with bigger user base.

What is next? Insisting that game on both platforms look exactly the same? Force everyone do the Ubisoft? Dangerous waters...

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swedishfriend

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<< LINK REMOVED >> The smaller developers are exactly the kind of people who do not bend to this kind of policy. That is why they are not just a cog in some larger studio machine. MS will drive away most smaller developers with this policy.

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deactivated-5a1d4b615a3a3

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<< LINK REMOVED >> This parity clause only applies to games developed under the Xbox Indie program which a dev has to sign up for and pay a yearly fee. They wouldn't sign up if they were not planning to release on the X1 therefore I do not see an issue.

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Celsius765

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I do, what if they wanted to get to the xone eventually

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deactivated-5a1d4b615a3a3

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Then all they need to do is speak with MS like all the other devs have done that have released there games on the X1 after other platforms

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Celsius765

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> thats not what the parity is for

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deactivated-5a1d4b615a3a3

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> In a nutshell, if you sign up to the program, MS gives you development tools and development kits to help you develop your game. MS requires parity for games developed under this program in order to avoid being exploited.


If you have no need for the free stuff or you are not sure about an X1 release, you can always go your own way initially and go and speak to MS if you have changed your mind.


Again, the Xbox Indie program is not the only way for indies to get there game on the X1, its just more accessible at the cost of parity.

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nikon133

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Regardless, it will leave developers longer without income as developing for 2 platforms must take longer than developing for one. I don't know how understanding MS is when developers come to talk about this, but for me fact remains that they will be talking about problem that shouldn't be there at all. At the end, both companies will benefit from having more snack-size games in their stores, they shouldn't be trying to enforce their will to small developers.

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