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Microsoft details long-awaited Xbox One self-publishing plans

Microsoft details long-awaited Xbox One self-publishing plans

Tue 20 Aug 2013 9:17am GMT / 5:17am EDT / 2:17am PDT
BusinessDevelopment

Full access to Xbox One services; no fees for game updates; MS will set price for titles

Microsoft has finally detailed its independent self-publishing service for the Xbox One, allowing developers to create, sell and market games through the new home console.

All developers accepted for the scheme will receive two Xbox One development kits free of charge, as well as access to the full range of services on offer to games development teams - cloud services, Kinect and the Xbox One toolset, which includes Smartglass, multiplayer, Achievements and Gamerscores.

In order to help with the discoverability issues that trouble all self-publishing stores, Microsoft is promising that all games will feature in the regular Xbox One store and be supported by voice search.

On top of that the store will also feature trending games reflecting what the community and friends are playing, recommendations based on a consumer's playing habits, spotlighted games and the ability for developers to set community challenges, as well as support the Xbox One's Game DVR and Upload services.

"It feels like Microsoft is interested in not only removing roadblocks for indies to get their games on Xbox One, but they're also genuinely interested in finding ways to bring new and innovative indie games to their platform"

Chris Hecker

Speaking to GamesIndustry International in an exclusive interview published today, Phil Harrison, corporate vice president at Microsoft Europe's interactive entertainment business, revealed that Microsoft will set the price of self-published games after developers have established their wholesale price and that developers are likely to receive an industry standard 70/30 split in their favour.

"The developer can set their own wholesale price and we act as the retailer. So Xbox Live acts as a reseller, and Xbox Live Store will be setting the ultimate retail price to the consumer. That's the way in which our store has always been structured," he said.

Developers will have access to a global support team headed by Chris Charla and a team of community managers, with Microsoft looking to establish physical events for developers in London, Seattle and San Francisco starting this autumn.

"Microsoft has a heritage of enabling developers to do great things and that support continues today," said Charla. "The independent development scene has matured and changed a ton in the past couple of years, so we are acting on that to meet the needs of the development community."

Independent developers who have already given their support to Microsoft's new initiative include Chris Hecker, The Behemoth's John Baez, Paul Wedgewood from Splash Damage, Other Ocean's Mike Mika, Team 17's Debbie Bestwick, The Odd Gentlemen's Matt Korab, Ripstone's Phil Gaskel and Dlala Studios.

Applications for the self-publishing service, named ID@Xbox, are being accepted from today, with Microsoft stating that priority will be given to developers with a proven track record in shipping games on console, mobile, PC or tablets.

There are no application fees for certification or for title updates. While applications are being curated to begin with, Microsoft has said that eventually it hopes that every Xbox One will become a development kit for self-publishing purposes.

"It feels like Microsoft is interested in not only removing roadblocks for indies to get their games on Xbox One, but they're also genuinely interested in finding ways to bring new and innovative indie games to their platform to help games reach their potential as an art and entertainment form," offered Chris Hecker, developer of Spy Party.

The full interview with Phil Harrison, Microsoft's corporate vice president of the interactive entertainment business in Europe, can be read here.

28 Comments

Ruben Monteiro
Engineer

50 96 1.9
Microsoft stating that priority will be given to developers with a proven track record in shipping games on console, mobile, PC or tablets.
i.e., if you're a new guy without inside connections at Microsoft, you're out. Thank you.

Posted:8 months ago

#1

Tommy Thompson
Programme Leader of BSc (Hons) Computer Games Programming degree.

42 21 0.5
I suspect that run of the mill developers will get a chance around summer next year. Let the rock stars go first.
Still, it's an exciting prospect.

Posted:8 months ago

#2
Popular Comment
I think it's not a bad thing to go step by step. Right now, it seems a devkit will be needed to develop for the Xbox One. They can't just send free devkits to everyone. Maybe when standard Xbox One units can be used for development, they will open the wall to everyone.

Also, not everyone can handle the skills or budget to develop for a big console platform, including age ratings, localization, QA, and so on.

For me, it seems quite fair to get experienced teams first. It seems fair from developer perspective, but also from gamer perspective.

Posted:8 months ago

#3

Makeda De'Jene
Creative Director & Founder

15 26 1.7
I had a feeling it was too good to be true for the "little guys" in the industry, I suppose it's because they want to make sure all those units aren't going out for nothing. It is most definitely another step forward for Microsoft.

Posted:8 months ago

#4
Seems to be similar to what Nintendo already do which is fair enough. I think that it's good Microsoft are going to set the price of the games rather than the developer as it should prevent a race to the bottom.

Posted:8 months ago

#5
It looks like Microsoft finally made a good decision - not only for them, but for gaming in general. Indie games are the reason why PC is still the best gaming platform around and they can't ignore it forever. I think that this decision will proof in the future that it actually saved the console from being an isolated platform for a small group of rich developers. Opening it for a much broader list of developers means more games = more sold c

Posted:8 months ago

#6

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
It is not an app store so it is a fail.
Microsoft have seen what works best and then they have ignored it.
It is difficult to understand their OCD.
They should trust the market and curate lightly, giving publishers commercial and artistic freedom. But they seem to be stuck in the past.

Posted:8 months ago

#7
Popular Comment
I'm confused over the 70/30 thing.

If the developer sets the "wholesale price" at say 7 and MS genuinely acts as a retailer and just sets the "retail price" then surely it's up to MS if they want to (a) Get the full 30% by selling at 10; (b) Use it as a loss leader and set the retail price between 0 and 7 or (c) Get a better deal for themselves by setting the retail price at over 10. In any event the developer gets the same 7 per unit distributed.

The developer gets a fixed sum per unit and you as a consumer have no idea how much of the retail price goes to the developer or to MS. Not saying that's a bad thing, or indeed a good thing, but it's doesn't sound like a 70/30 rev share split with MS setting the price.

Posted:8 months ago

#8

Ruben Monteiro
Engineer

50 96 1.9
For me, it seems quite fair to get experienced teams first. It seems fair from developer perspective, but also from gamer perspective.
It seems fair that a new developer doesn't get the same chance because it's their first game? Is a game from an established developer always better than one from a new developer?
How is it fair from the gamer perspective if he's been fed games from pre selected devs instead of choosing them himself?

Someone needs to tell Microsoft that the 1980's called and they want their business models back.

Posted:8 months ago

#9

Paul Ah-Thion
Contract Programmer

2 5 2.5
They're giving out free devkits, so they need SOME barrier (historically with consoles it's been having a publisher, plus the high price of devkits), or everyone & his dog would be requesting one, whether they intended to make games or not. As it is, it would have been very easy (and reasonable) for them to require a proven track record of releasing games from developers. Instead, just giving priority to experienced devs seems more than fair, in that it also opens up the doors for devs with no previous releases or even experience.

Posted:8 months ago

#10

Stewart Gilray
Managing Director

29 23 0.8
I've tried to submit an application to the site for the past 4hrs and still it fails with errors once I click Submit.

Has anyone managed to submit an application?

Posted:8 months ago

#11
Hey Stewart, it's a bug that MS is trying to fix, apparently. Good start...

Posted:8 months ago

#12

Stewart Gilray
Managing Director

29 23 0.8
Hey Matt, thanks ;-)

Posted:8 months ago

#13
Same bug... the "County-field" bug! :)

Posted:8 months ago

#14
Popular Comment
Of course, it's fair! They can't send 2 devkits to everyone out there, so it seems fair to accept experienced developers at first. Once standard Xbox One units can be used as devkits, I'm pretty sure they will open the platform to other developers.

Sending 2 devkits to some small indies it's awesome. Do you imagine Apple sending some iMacs and iPads to small developers for free? For me, Microsoft is clearly lowering barriers.

From gamer's perspective, I think getting quality games is much prefered versus getting tons of garbage. That helps good developers, as games will get discovered easily and not buried behind tons of new content. Also, there are other markets to sell games, such as the AppStore, PC or Android. Microsoft has its platform and its rules, that's all.

But for me, its pretty fair right now, and I'm sure they will open the platform any time soon.

Posted:8 months ago

#15

Petter Solberg
Freelance Writer & Artist

56 30 0.5
I can definitely relate to the frustration. However, that's how it's done in most areas. A first time writer, artist, musician etc will never get the same oportunities as the established ones, unless they're being really clever. That said, the article doesn't state that new devs will be completely ignored.

I do think it's fair to look at track records when launching a new platform. MS need to find a way to support new talent, but it's got to be in a step by step method to ensure stability AND originality.
3 hours ago
For me, it seems quite fair to get experienced teams first. It seems fair from developer perspective, but also from gamer perspective.
It seems fair that a new developer doesn't get the same chance because it's their first game? Is a game from an established developer always better than one from a new developer?
How is it fair from the gamer perspective if he's been fed games from pre selected devs instead of choosing them himself?

Someone needs to tell Microsoft that the 1980's called and they want their business models back.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Petter Solberg on 20th August 2013 4:40pm

Posted:8 months ago

#16

debbie bestwick
MANAGING DIRECTOR

2 5 2.5
Popular Comment
Bruce its not an App Store so it fails? Is steam or psn an App Store ... Both have barriers to entry be it green light or concept approval. Mobile app stores all iI hear is people talking about visibility for their products so I'd argue that none are perfect. As a games creator all we ask is to be treated equal on any platform and let us have a chance. We will either suceed or fail but give us a chance. Steam I've seen some amazing indie games top of the charts, same with psn, apple, google and amazon charts. Microsoft appear to be listening and that all we ask. I'm assured the policies are being changed big time, I did ask all the horrible questions regarding concept approvals,submission and store visibility and the answers I was given gave me the confidence to look to add Xbox one development to our plans going forward.

Posted:8 months ago

#17

Chris Charla
Director ID@Xbox

5 12 2.4
Popular Comment
Hi Stewart! Sorry you're having an issue. We've encountered a few website issues that we're working to fix. In the meantime, please email ID@Xbox.com, and we will send you the form in plain text so you can email it back.

Posted:8 months ago

#18

Jeffrey Kesselman
Professor - Game Development

33 53 1.6
This isn't an indy strategy, at first glance. Its simply Microsoft cutting GameStop out of the loop.

I'll hold judgement til I see what their indy strategy actually looks like.

Posted:8 months ago

#19

Jeffrey Kesselman
Professor - Game Development

33 53 1.6
Its not at all clear that they are giving out free DevKits.

It could be that there is a program fee equal to our greater then the traditional cost of two dev kits.

Again, ill wait to judge til i have all the detailos.

Posted:8 months ago

#20

Ruben Monteiro
Engineer

50 96 1.9
From gamer's perspective, I think getting quality games is much prefered versus getting tons of garbage.
Again: Is it true that new developers always create garbage while established developers always create good games?
I'm hard pressed to find logic in a curation system that evaluates a game's worth by looking at the developer's past games.

btw, I'm not saying devkits need to be free (just don't charge $20000 for something which is basically a PC)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ruben Monteiro on 21st August 2013 12:15am

Posted:8 months ago

#21

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

416 112 0.3
It also means if a g ame is selling badly MS can compensate and sell at 8 as well as being able to do Steam-like specials and bundles.

Posted:8 months ago

#22

Chris Charla
Director ID@Xbox

5 12 2.4
There are no fees associated with the program for developers.

Posted:8 months ago

#23

Chris Charla
Director ID@Xbox

5 12 2.4
In the case of (c), we would pay the industry standard revenue split to the developer, which would be higher than the wholesale price.

Posted:8 months ago

#24

Stewart Gilray
Managing Director

29 23 0.8
Hey Chris,
Thanks but I got it sorted late yesterday...

Also, a mutual friend of ours has emailed you about the programme, have you seen that email yet? ;)

Stewart

Posted:8 months ago

#25
Thanks for the clarification. Makes sense. :)

Posted:8 months ago

#26

Richard Pygott
Level Designer

39 13 0.3
I thought MS announced a few months ago that a standard Retail Xbox One unit would be usable as a devkit?

Posted:7 months ago

#27

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