Xbox One to allow indie self-publishing

Microsoft confirms news, but avoids comment on letting devs set release dates, pricing on Xbox Live games

[UPDATE]: Engadget has a statement from Microsoft's Xbox corporate VP Marc Whitten confirming the news.

"Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox Live. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox Live. We'll have more details on the program and the timeline at Gamescom in August."

The original story follows below.

Microsoft already reversed one unpopular Xbox One policy when it backed off the system's online requirements. Now it might be backing down off another, as Game Informer reports the company will allow independent developers to self-publish their games on Xbox Live.

The outlet's sources say that developers will be able to make the call on their games' release dates and pricing. Additionally, Microsoft is looking to make its certification process more like iTunes, with a targeted 14-day window from submission to approval. That will mean the company's examination of game code will be more cursory, covering primarily terms of service breaches and major bugs.

Finally, Game Informer reports that the standard Xbox One retail unit will be convertible to a debug console that can play pre-release code. Instead of having two different hardware setups, Microsoft will just authorize specific consoles to play unfinished code. The same process is expected to work for large-scale beta testing of games as well.

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Latest comments (27)

Pete Thompson Editor 8 years ago
Nice, love indie games on the X360....! Also love the idea of being able to convert a retail unit into a debug..
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Greg Knight Freelance Developer 8 years ago
"Microsoft will just authorize specific consoles to play unfinished code" Does this mean they will require an internet connection!? Gadzooks!
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Brian Smith Artist 8 years ago
Hope they go further and try to make it more lucrative for developers. The 360 indie scene broke out some great stuff but it's been choked into smaller less polished titles imo. You only have to see how the number of releases has nose dived to see that something is messed up. Great news on the self publishing etc, just hope they overhaul the entire presentation and financial structure too.
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Show all comments (27)
Gregory Hommel writer 8 years ago
This is ultimately good for gamers and gaming as a whole. Although it makes me ill. An article from yesterday was pulled from this site as it lambasted Microsoft for being unfriendly to indies. I am truly sick of these policy changes designed to help their image after the fact. If they can't make the right policy, at the right time, for the right reasons, they don't deserve our time much less our money. I boo you Microsoft, and wish daily for your failure.
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Mark Friedler VP Sales, Cubeyou.com8 years ago
Victory for Lorne Lanning and his tireless advocacy for the indies on the XBox platform. Nice work Lorne!
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Tucson K Bagley Junior Artist, Dreamgate Studios8 years ago
Gregory, was the article in question the one using quotes from Lanning?
If so, that was not pulled with regards to Microsoft, it was pulled because it was misinformation; Lanning commented on it saying he was misquoted, and asked for it to be corrected and/or for them to contact him for a direct chat.

That said, I do agree that for Microsoft this is almost too little too late, and they're still being vague. Indies could still be relegated to an obscure corner and Microsoft probably still has absolute control, and I don't like that. I am happy, though, that there is some real sense of competition in this sort of regard. PS4 isn't region locked, XbOne matches that, PS4 says that Indies can self publish, XbOne tries to top that with their own policy regarding it.
It's a good, healthy thing to see. I only hope Sony is influenced to be competitive in kind.
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Diego Santos Lećo Creative Director, GameBlox Interactive8 years ago
That is just awesome :) Microsoft, just don't forget to focus heavily on discoverability (like the App Store does to some extent), even if only to clean your storefront from minecraft clones and massage apps.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
Nice to see Microsoft continuing to steer the Xbox One in the right direction. But I would really like to know who was in charge of all these unpopular decisions they initially made for this system. Because that person needs to be fired. So many console norms are no-brainers yet somebody decided to walk all over them. That could have worked in a one-system world but not while there are two equally dangerous competitors.

At the end of the day though you can't really argue the fact that this is a good move for Microsoft. But I think they are in serious need of some consistent direction for the Xbox One. Microsoft if you need a knowledgeable consultant(who also happens to be a serious gamer) feel free to contact me anytime.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 25th July 2013 12:53am

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
The other thing they didn't specify is whether indie titles would be displayed with published titles or shoved into a ghetto like on Xbox 360. "Great discoverability" was a moniker back then too.
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Private Industry 8 years ago

We will see if it is a victory for Lorne Lanning and co. There isn`t much information yet on the exact plans from Microsoft. We have on the 360 Xbox Live Indie Games that allow self publishing without the need of a dev kit, so their plans for the Xbox 1 might be the same as on the 360. In that case a file size limit would be enforced meaning you bigger indie games would still require a publisher.
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Cale Barnett Animator 8 years ago
Starting to not see the difference between XB1 and PS4, this can't be good for the overall industry in the coming generation.
Now it just becomes a battle over exclusives and minor features, same as this gen has been.
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Lee Hewes8 years ago

The big difference for me is that the PS4 came out with these things already in place where as XB1 has had to retroactively change all their policies to please the gaming community. They still came out with these unpopular ideas and they're not going to just disappear in the minds of the execs. Gamers only had one real way of having any say in this and that was their money, now that pre-orders are still climbing, they will lose that leverage and I wonder whether there will be a time where the loss of potential sales doesn't seem enough of a deterrent to the use of unpopular policies.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
In July 2008 Apple proved that there was a new and vastly superior mechanism for publishing games. There have now been over 50 thousand million iOS app downloads. That is 7 app downloads for every person on the planet!
Anyone with any modicum of sense would have instantly copied this business model. Google and Amazon have.
But the old game industry of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo didn't. Which has been one of the main reasons for their downfall.
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Craig Burkey Software Engineer 8 years ago
@Bruce apps != games rarely has anything been release the matches the quality on the 360/PS3 never mind the level of immersion that the PS4 and XBO are aiming for.

Also download != purchase, I think you need to filter alot of chaff out of those stats for them to be useful or representative of any "trend"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Craig Burkey on 25th July 2013 8:51am

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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development8 years ago
@Bruce: I'm sure people download more applications from the Internet than that.
The other thing they didn't specify is whether indie titles would be displayed with published titles or shoved into a ghetto like on Xbox 360. "Great discoverability" was a moniker back then too.
All that is needed for discovery in my opinion is freedom. Let people freely create their own discovery apps (with a framework to search for titles) and have the users find these discovery apps by direct links. So as an example, RetroGaming can have their own listing of games in whatever order they choose that they publish. Their link for this is Users enter this URL and can access RetroGaming's selection of games listings. For this Microsoft can (and should) give them a share of revenue from that purchase (subtracted from Microsoft's share).

I'm sure everyone wins with that type of system.
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Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent8 years ago
This is great. Another step in the right direction. Keep going.
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Andrew Wafer CEO, Pixel Toys8 years ago
Great news, but did I miss the bit where Microsoft said they weren't going to support indies? Isn't this the first time they've officially announced their policy for Xbox One?

I know Matt Booty said something a while back before E3 along the lines of them continuing what they've done before, which I'm sure they still are, but did he ever rule out indie publishing for Xbox One too? No. In fact he specifically said they were going to look at new ways of surfacing content. Until MS officially announce a new policy all they can do is quote the existing one.
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Jakub Mikyska CEO, Grip Digital8 years ago
I still can't believe that this is actually happening. There must be some kind of catch somewhere. If the self-publishing on XBLA will be on par with PSN, then that's the biggest news this year for the indie community.

Dear Valve, are you watching this?...
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Jim Perry Programmer, head geek of indie studio Mach X Games 8 years ago
Nicholas - Marc Whitten confirmed that all games would be lumped together. I just hope they have better tools for finding games and letting the good ones rise to the top.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam8 years ago
Andrew - "did I miss the bit where Microsoft said they weren't going to support indies?"
Previously they said you'd still need a publisher on Xbox One. Link here to the first story I found on Google about that.
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Andy Payne Chair/founder, AppyNation8 years ago

Just what is it that you want to do?

We wanna be free
We wanna be free to do what we wanna do
And we wanna get loaded
And we wanna have a good time
That's what we're gonna do
No way baby let's go
We're gonna have a good time
We're gonna have a party

I don't wanna lose your love......
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Peter Shea Games Director, Chunk Games8 years ago
Please stop crying
I know you know I've been lyin'
Please stop crying
I know your love for me is dying
There ain't nothing I wouldn't do
To get myself back close to you
Please stop cryin'
I'm sorry I hurt you

I betrayed you
You trusted me and I betrayed you
If I obeyed you
I can't be me so I betrayed you
I don't want nobody else
I just want you to myself
But I betrayed you
I'm sorry I hurt you

I'm losing more than I'll ever have...
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Andrew Wafer CEO, Pixel Toys8 years ago
@John Bye, have a read of the article you've linked to. Matt Booty just quotes their policy (at that time) of allowing first party and third party publishing. Nothing about not allowing indies on Xbox One.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam8 years ago
The original source article for that story is talking about Xbox One, even if the quote from Matt Booty doesn't include those two words.
When asked if developers will still need a publisher to get content onto Xbox Live, Matt Booty, general manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms, told us that "as of right now, yes. We intend to continue to court developers in the ways that we have."
That's pretty unequivocal to me, even if he does go on to say they're going to "explore new business models and new ways of surfacing content" (which is always the case - witness Microsoft's recent conversion to allowing free to play games onto Xbox 360).

Certainly at the time (two months ago) there were lots of stories based on this quote saying that it meant Microsoft were going to continue insisting that indie developers went through a publisher to get onto Xbox One. If it that was a miscommunication, I would have expected them to say something earlier instead of facing two months of bad press over it before telling people that actually that wasn't the case.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Bye on 25th July 2013 4:48pm

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Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games8 years ago
Nobody said XBOne wouldn't allow indies, just that it would require them to go through a publisher...which would be very difficult for a lot of indies.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
Frankly, I think the best thing about this has nothing to do with games, but Apps. Given that home theater HTPC stuff is a focus of many PC indie operations, being able to port apps to the X1 that will integrate with the entertainment side would be great. Home automation, lighting heck we can even get Windows Media Center support back in theory, complete with Kinect functionality
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Saehoon Lee Founder & CEO, Pixellore8 years ago
It is true that ms and sony, werent best friend to the indies but you still dont want them to fail drastically. It is not good for the overall industry. ( but i am sure some people may disagree )
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