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Xbox One won't allow self-publishing by indies

Microsoft's current publishing practices stay in place for Xbox One

Yesterday, Microsoft's Studios corporate vice president Phil Harrison told Eurogamer that the marketplace on the company's new Xbox One console would combine retail games, Xbox Live Arcade, and Xbox Live Indie Games into a single section.

"In the past we had retail games which came on disc, we had Xbox Live Arcade and we had Indie Games, and they had their own discrete channels or discrete silos. With Xbox One and the new marketplace, they're games," said Harrison.

The problem is that Xbox Live Arcade requires a publisher in order to get onto the service. Independent developers have to work with an outside publisher or obtain a Microsoft publishing deal to launch on Xbox Live Arcade, or end up in the no man's land of Xbox Live Indie Games. With the Indie Games section going away, that means developers are stuck with the standard Xbox publishing rules.

Microsoft general manager of Redmond game studios and platforms Matt Booty confirmed to Shacknews that Xbox One would not allow indies to self-publish.

"As of right now, yes," said Booty. "We intend to continue to court developers in the ways that we have. 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. 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."

Valve's Steam platform for PC is popular with indies due to the wide userbase and ability to self-publish. Sony and Nintendo are both aiming for indies with new publishing initiatives on PlayStation Network and the Nintendo eShop. In contrast, Microsoft has come under fire in the past for its restrictive publishing practices when it comes to independent developers, and it looks like things won't be changing in the future.

Latest comments (12)

Khash Firestorm Senior Programmer, MuHa Games3 years ago
Ah cool, just another reason to not buy this console. I wonder how they master this anti-marketing but they are really good in it. Whatever I do to make myserlf think positive about Xbox 1 they find way to counter it....
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Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis3 years ago
I think this is actually a good move, there is so much tat on the Xbox Live Indie channel right now, if they are combining marketplaces I don't want generally higher quality XBLA game getting flooded out of view by "Vibrating Controller Massage 5" things. It is bad enough having to trawl through all the Rock Band/Guitar Hero/Dance Central downloads to get to anything now.

Should Microsoft set up a publishing arm to bring the best Indie games to market like Fez, Super Meat Boy and Braid did? Sure, but that system must already in place because Fez, Super Meat Boy and Braid came out.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Barrie Tingle on 22nd May 2013 4:54pm

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Ryan Leonski Indie Dev 3 years ago
Theres some great games on the XBLIG service though including the Penny Arcade's game On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness 3, DLC quest, Cthulu Saves the World, among others. Its a great way if you're looking to make a small game for console. But no more. Sad days are coming.
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Show all comments (12)
Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
Now here's a potential boost for Nintendo, Sony and maybe even Ouya...
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Anthony Gowland Consulting F2P Game Designer, Ant Workshop3 years ago
Its a great way if you're looking to make a small game for console
Really? I'm sure I read reports that pretty much everyone apart from the minecraft clones made negligible amounts of money on it.
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Caleb Hale Journalist 3 years ago
Indie games are nice, but they don't sell consoles to the type of audience Microsoft is trying to attract with Xbox One. Again, it's a little early (probably about 7-8 years early) to try to pigeonhole these next-gen consoles on who they are for. Indie games are going to be released on all of them, because they are a force to be reckoned with in the industry right now.

In the gamer-centric circles that frequent these types of trade sites, it's easy to over-inflate the perception an outlet for indie games is an important selling point for a game system. Hardcore gamers, who imbibe themselves in nearly every first-person-shooter or big-budget action title, find indie games a refreshing alternative when AAA gets to feeling a little stale. To the person who buys only a handful of new games each year, they don't need and aren't necessarily seeking that release.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 3 years ago
In the gamer-centric circles that frequent these types of trade sites, it's easy to over-inflate the perception an outlet for indie games is an important selling point for a game system.
True. But having a nice selection of games helps. Only if there would be as much big publishers as there was in 2005 :) People are not going to invest in a platform where there are only a handful AAA games per year. Similar issue with the WiiU. There is no software. Its too expensive to make a AAA game for such a small user base. Indies not going to solve that, but there is a serious problem with a company that turns away people enthusiastic about their products instead tapping into their creativity. Just wait until the next generation comes of age who knows nothing about the consoles, and have no interest whatsoever to play or develop for them.
To the person who buys only a handful of new games each year, they don't need and aren't necessarily seeking that release.
Also true. But if the console is sold at a loss, they are not the ones who will generate the profit for the platform holder on the short term.
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Caleb Hale Journalist 3 years ago
Tom,

"Gamers" won't invest in a platform with only a handful of AAA titles. Microsoft execs are betting "people" will, especially if that box does other things for your living room entertainment setup. And if the three to four games the more casual gaming fan picks up each year won't cover the loss MS might take on the Xbox One, the annual subscription fee to access virtually all of the system's online offerings will.
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This is easy. The console supports windows 8? ... so Microsoft can shunt all indies over to w8 metro/modern ui app development. Basically PC dev plus Kinect?

At the moment it definitely sounds like their focus is ea not indies.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 3 years ago
"We intend to continue to court developers in the ways that we have."
Ooooooooh dear!
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Jakub Mikyska CEO, Grip Digital3 years ago
They don't need to open the console to anyone, like XBLIG. All they need to do is to open door for "professional indies". Like Sony and Nintendo did. They are not flooded with garbage and they can manage taking care of all the developers...

But Microsoft is clearly after the AAA and some high-profile indie games. That's OK, they don't need to create livelihood for every small developer out there. I just hope that this attitude will come back to bite their a$$, when their audience moves away.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jakub Mikyska on 23rd May 2013 10:45am

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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
Well that sux!!!
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