Can Indie Devs Self-Publish on Xbox One? Maybe Not


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Information concerning just how things on Microsoft’s Xbox One console will work continues to be a mess, with the latest batch of confusion surrounding how indie games might (or might not) make it onto the next generation Xbox.

According to a ShackNews report, indie developers will not be able to self-publish games on the Xbox One, a model that stands at odds with what Sony is offering with the Playstation 4 and Nintendo offers with the WiiU. Matt Booty, Microsoft’s general manager of Redmond Game Studios, told ShackNews, “as of right now, yes. We intend to continue to court developers in the ways that we have.”

“The ways that we have” refers to the way games work on Xbox Live today — in order to publish a game on the Xbox Live Arcade portion of the ecosystem, developers need a partnership either with Microsoft Games Studios or a third-party publisher.

Booty went on to say that he expects Microsoft to look into new options.

“I would also expect that for this new generation, that we’re going to continue to explore new business models and new ways of surfacing content,” Booty said. “But Microsoft Studios is a publisher that works with a wide range of partners, as do a lot of other people, to bring digital content to the box.”

That’s a disheartening situation for indie developers, however. As it stands today, indie games can be published either to Xbox Live Arcade with a publishing deal, or self-published in Xbox Live Indie Games, an area of the Xbox Live ecosystem that is notoriously bad for selling games, and which developers complain receives little marketing support from Microsoft.

Further complicating the matter are comments by Microsoft Corporate Vice President Phil Harrison. Speaking to Eurogamer, Harrison said the Xbox Live Arcade and Xbox Live Indie Games channels would disappearing, leaving instead an ecosystem that’s “just games.” Without the delineation of the XBLIG space, that would suggest Microsoft has no plans to offer self-publishing to indie games developers at all.

Microsoft responded to Game Front’s request for comment on the issue with the following statement:

“Xbox pioneered digital distribution of console games with Xbox LIVE Arcade opening up the console to entirely new classes of independent developers. Later, we introduced Xbox LIVE Indie Games to provide an outlet for the hobbyist creator. Xbox One is a platform that allows all creators, including those who work on games and apps, regardless of team size, funding, business model, etc. to take advantage of unique capabilities to build amazing experiences that push the limits of technology. We are committed to ensuring all Xbox platforms are the best platforms to help developers realize their visions and we look forward to sharing more details later.”

Though its statement doesn’t really specify any particular plans for indie games, leaving the Xbox One without a means of self-publishing for indie developers would separate the new console from the Playstation 4 and the WiiU, which both offer self-publishing. Sony in particular has been aggressively courting the indie games scene for some time now, and has positioned itself as a leader on the scene in consoles, even bringing Braid creator Jonathan Blow on stage at its PS4 announcement press conference, and showing off its timed exclusivity with his next title, The Witness.


Ian Miles Cheong contributed to this report.

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2 Comments on Can Indie Devs Self-Publish on Xbox One? Maybe Not

Michael

On May 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

I think its a very bad idea for Indie developers to continue on xbox period. I think its a costly risk. Well at least there is Steam and PS4. This Console has become an EA console nothing more.

R.J.

On May 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I don’t know if Harrison didn’t do any prep work for the questions he would be asked or what, but there really hasn’t been anything good in what that man has said in response to questions, and now MS has tried to downplay everything he said as just being “potential options.” It wouldn’t have been too hard to just talk about the firm details, and leave everything else with a response that they would talk about it later.

Oh and kudos on the canned response that doesn’t actually answer the question, MS. Talking about what you’ve done in the past and making vague statements about the future is not a valid response.