Independent developers have called Microsoft’s ID@Xbox programme “hugely important” to the games industry, and have singled it out as one of the easiest digital publishing platforms to work on across all platform holders.
Speaking to MCV at an ID@Xbox preview event this week, several developers were very warm in their praise of the platform, with Sumo Digital’s designer and PR analyst David Dino (pictured right, top left) saying that the opportunity to obtain a free Xbox One development kit is vital for helping developers get their ideas out into the open.
“I think it’s great. All these different programmes, especially ID@Xbox, have been really good. Just allowing people to have dev kits when they don’t necessarily have the funds to purchase something like that, you get a lot of crazy ideas that people are brewing that they don’t necessarily have the ability to do straight out unless they have a set amount of capital, so a programme like ID@Xbox is amazing because it’s an amazing option for them.”
He continued: “Even five years ago, it was tough for people to really get into even a self-publishing route, or look for a publisher in that regard. But now there are so many different avenues and it’s good to have those choices as well. ID@Xbox has been super helpful in getting the visibility of [Snake Pass] and making that publishing process a lot easier as well. Thankfully, again, with Sumo Digital having worked on a lot of Microsoft titles, too, we’ve been able to leverage those partnerships.
“It’s been really awesome working with them. Doing our own self-publishing, trying to get that visibility, it’s still work that we have to do, but having the avenue that ID@Xbox has given us in order to get to this place, that’s something we wouldn’t have been able to be a part of [otherwise].”
Two-man studio Mad Fellows, whose rhythm action title Aaero is coming to Xbox One, PS4 and Steam this Spring, applauded ID’s extensive support network:
“They were just there when you need them, so if you hit a problem, you can get in touch with them and they’ll sort it out, or guide you in the right direction,” said technical director Dan Horbury (pictured top right). “With Steam, we found it less personal. We’ve worked with Microsoft on two projects now and on the first project we had account managers who spent their own time talking to us, to help us get it onto the store, to help with the US store.”
ID@Xbox is also a great opportunity for smaller developers to get the same kind of visibility in Microsoft’s Store and social media channels as the big triple-A studios, said Tequila Works’ producer Miguel Paniagua (pictured bottom left), who’s working on Rime:
“At Tequila Works, we’re almost 50 guys, but ID@Xbox is providing anybody with the chance of publishing their own project at the same level as the biggest teams in the industry.
“So being a big team, it’s like, ‘What?’, but as a small team and a new one, it’s like, ‘Wow! That’s a huge chance we have here.’ ID@Xbox provides the chance of publishing to almost anyone, so I think that’s a huge chance there.”
While Tequila Works isn’t publishing Rime itself, it is taking on publishing duties for Cavalier Game Studios’ The Sexy Brutale, which it also co-developed.
“With The Sexy Brutale, we’re self-publishing and the relationship with have with the ID team has been amazing. They’ve been very helpful and any time I had a problem I sent an email and I’ve had an answer in three minutes. It’s very quick communication. It’s our first time publishing a game and we were kind of lost at the beginning because we didn’t know that we had so many things to deal with. It’s a huge process, but I have to say that the submission process with Microsoft is the easiest one of all [platforms]. We’re submitting with PS4, with Xbox, with Steam, and ID@Xbox is the most helpful one.”
Cavalier itself also has nothing but praise for the programme. “It’s hugely important,” says founder and design director Charles Griffiths (pictured bottom right).
“Events like [the ID@Xbox preview] are enormously valuable. The opportunity to have the game played in a slightly more long-form way and in a good environment is great. It’s hugely important and valuable for us. ID@Xbox has been a great scheme and everyone involved with it has been really approachable, and Microsoft has also been very open to listening to our queries and finding any of the problems in the process and addressing them, so it’s been very good.”