A Steam-style Early Access programme is a common request amongst ID@Xbox developers, the platform holder’s Chris Charla has told Develop.
Valve’s initiative that allows studios to release alpha versions of their games so that consumers can offer feedback has taken off in the last twelve months, with titles like Rust and Day Z selling millions of copies before full development has even finished.
Reports have emerged this morning that Sony is considering a similar scheme on PlayStation 4 and Charla told Develop in an interview last week that it’s a talking point at Xbox as well.
"Right now on Xbox One and Xbox 360, you can do betas. A lot of games do, and some games do private betas," he explained. "When we talk about early access, it typically means a game that you buy and it evolves over time to become 1.0, so you’re buying it before it’s 1.0 – Minecraft on PC is a perfect example.
"It’s something developers have been asking for, and we are listening really closely to developers, but I don’t have anything to announce on that right now."
One of the criticisms against Early Access and Steam’s consumer voting system Greenlight, which allows users to vote for the projects they want to be released, that the marketplace has become flooded with unfinished and fundamentally broken games under the umbrella term of ‘alpha release’.
Xbox is keen to avoid the same issues if it decides to launch an Early Access programme.
"It’s a really interesting issue with digital marketplaces, and it’s something our store and marketplace team think about all the time," Charla told us. "There’s a lot of heavy deep thinkers, experts, PhDs working on these problems at Xbox every day – not just for the Xbox store, but for Windows Store and Windows Phone. Our goal is to have a rational marketplace, where good games are visible and sell well."
Last week, Charla – who heads up indie initiative ID@Xbox – said Xbox is constantly listening to developers in how it shapes its services and offering.