Microsoft seems to be learning its lesson from the massive backlash that was produced after its E3 2013 showing. With its DRM and mandatory internet policy now seemingly a thing of the past, Microsoft has taken a step forward in reversing its decision on indie self-publishing for Xbox One.
Originally, Microsoft’s policy with regards to independent developers prevented them from releasing their games on the Xbox platform without a publisher. This has caused multiple independent developers to abandon the XBLA service, which led to many indie titles simply skipping the Xbox 360 altogether. This was not the case with Sony, however, whose more lax policies has led to massive indie support with games such as Abe’s Oddysee: New ‘n’ Tasty, Don’t Starve, and Transistor being displayed at their E3 conference this year.
However, just like their reversal of several other controversial policies, Microsoft had started to change their tune earlier when it came to supporting indie groups too. One such action was the new changes in their XBLA policies that allowed developers to set their own release dates and prices. This would help developers handle their own marketing, and avoid the erratic nature of XBLA releases.
Prior to the confirmation that indie developers were able to self-publish, word spread that Microsoft was “drastically overhauling” its certification process, using a model similar to iTunes, and was targeting a 14-day turnaround for approvals. Also, there was word that Microsoft will be allowing Xbox One owners to convert units into debug consoles, as well.
Not only is the policy now gone, but Microsoft also confirmed that every Xbox One is a development kit in its own right.
“Our vision is that every person can be a creator,” said Xbox corporate VP Marc Whitten in a statement. “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.”
This is big news for Xbox One fans. Not only has it shown that Microsoft is listening to fans and developers alike, but they are willing to take big gambles. These development kits for any piece of hardware, either from Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo, can cost thousands of dollars. To actually allow any Xbox One be a development kit is huge, especially for an up-and-coming independent game developer.
Microsoft is showing they are willing to drastically change their policies as they saw their grip on the video game industry start to slip. The software giant is taking big steps to show that they are not down for the count yet, and ready to abandon ego and tradition to bring indie games to fans.
The Xbox One is available for pre-order on Amazon: