Free devkits and no game update fees puts MS back into indie fold

Microsoft outlines vision for self-publishing on Xbox One

Microsoft has detailed its vision on self-publishing for indie developers on the Xbox One.

The firm said it had met with more than 50 developers asking what they wanted from a self-publishing program as it plotted its course to create a more open platform.

As of today Microsoft is taking applications for the initiative, called Independent Developers @ Xbox (ID@Xbox).

Those accepted to the program will become a registered Xbox One developer. Microsoft said it would give priority access to indies who "have a proven track record of shipping games on console, PC, mobile or tablet".

There will be no application fees and there will be no costs for certification or game updates.

Microsoft had previously been criticised for putting much too much red tape on game updates, which could cost developers in the region of $10,00, although this practice was abolished earlier this year.

Each developer accepted on to the program will receive two development kits for free. They will also have access to "the full power of the console", as well as cloud services and the Kinect.

Indies will also have access to the Xbox Live toolset, which includes SmartGlass, multiplayer, achievements and gamerscore.

Developers will not yet however be able to use the retail version of the Xbox One as a development kit, as was previously teased.

In a statement, Microsoft said: "Longer term, our plan is to enable any Xbox One console to be used as a development kit for self-publishing purposes. This means that any hobbyist with a great game idea can make it come to life on Xbox One."

There is no time scale however for when this will be implemented.

Microsoft has also taken a new approach to tackle the issue of discoverability. All games will be placed on a single Xbox One marketplace.

Games can be found through routes such as what’s trending – what your friends and the wider community are currently playing – recommendations and iOS-like Editor Picks.

Titles can also be discovered as players record and share videos online, and developers and users will also be able to create special events through achievements and challenges.

As previously revealed, there will be no Xbox Live Arcade and indie game sections on the store.

A global support team for indies will be headed by XBLA portfolio director and former Foundation 9 director of business development Chris Charla.

Like Sony recently revealed to Develop, Microsoft will also be hosting numerous indie developer events in London and across the world, in places such as Seattle and San Francisco.

“Xbox One was built from the ground up to be a great platform for developers of any size to create and share their ideas with the world," said Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten.

"We are committed to bringing together the imagination of game developers from around the world together with the power of Xbox One. We know Xbox fans will fall in love with the quality and diversity of games on our platform. We are committed to ID@Xbox and are fully invested in helping independent developers succeed on Xbox One.”

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