Microsoft reveals ID@Xbox, its indie self-publishing initiative

Xbox One

Microsoft has promised to deliver the “best platform for development, digital distribution and discovery” with ID@Xbox, its new indie self-publishing initiative.

The platform holder says it has consulted with more than 50 developers to put ID@Xbox together, and also revealed a little more detail on how games will be sold through its new console. All games will be located together in the Xbox One Store, which has standard and voice search, Trending games (“what friends and the community are playing”), Recommendations (“based on what you like to play”) and Spotlight (“editor picks”) sections. Xbox One Store games will also have Game DVR, Upload, Achievements and Challenges – the latter of which will “enable developers and the community to create special events out of games,” says Microsoft.

Every registered developer will receive two free development kits, giving them access to cloud services, Kinect, Xbox Live, Xbox SmartGlass, multiplayer, Achievements and Gamerscores. Microsoft also promises a global support team, led by director for ID@Xbox Chris Charla. It will handle submissions, answer questions and encourage the adoption of best practice. Forums and developer events will also be part of Microsoft’s efforts to encourage studios to release games through the initiative, with gatherings planned this autumn in London, Seattle and San Francisco.

Developers can apply now here, though currently studios with “a proven track record of shipping games on console, PC, mobile or tablet,” will be prioritised. 360’s infamous charges are all gone too, meaning that the application process, certification and updating games on Xbox One are all free of charge.

There’s no mention of how Microsoft intends to turn each Xbox One into a devkit, though – this is described as a “longer term” goal in the statement given to the press.

Microsoft execs Marc Whitten, Phil Harrison and Chris Charla each expressed their commitment to independent developers in the announcement, with Harrison saying: “I am really looking forward to the diversity and creativity of games that will come to Xbox One through the ID@Xbox program. We’ve worked with the community of developers to craft a platform that helps creators self-publish on Xbox One – irrespective of their size or location.”

Microsoft has also gathered the support of indies inclusing Chris Hecker, who says: “I want SpyParty to be available to as many players as possible, and 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.”

Splash Damage’s Paul Wedgwood talked up the potential of Xbox One’s bundled Kinect sensor and cloud-based services, while The Behemoth’s John Baez stressed the importance of discoverability.

Ripstone, Team17, Mike Mika of Other Ocean, The Odd Gentlemen’s Matt Korab and Craig Thomas and Aj Grand-Scrutton of Dlala Studios also pledged their support for the initiative in the announcement, the latter studio adding: “The industry in general needs to get rid of this line between what AAA and indie is. It’s a bunch of guys and gals making video games and that’s what it’s all about.”