After announcing not only that Xbox One would support indie games, but that Microsoft had 32 studios lined up and working on them already, ID@Xbox’s director Chris Charla has told us that Xbox One owners can expect the first indie titles in the ID@Xbox scheme to arrive around the end of Q1 2014.
“I think it will be early in the New Year, in the first three months,” said Charla. “I would say closer to the third month. In terms of how many games there will be, it’s hard to say, because they’re still in development.”
According to Charla, many of the games currently being worked on for ID@Xbox have been in development for “months”.
“Some developers started developing for Xbox One, others already had games in development and are working on Xbox One versions. I would say they’re at all stages of development, honestly.”
The ID@Xbox website lays out the conditions for what developers can and can’t build for the Xbox Games Store, stating that while Microsoft “don’t want to be censors”, they’re not interested in promoting content that is “vulgar, offensive or objectionable”. According to Charla, the best way to get a clear idea of what constitutes acceptable content is to look at games currently available for the Xbox 360.
Furthermore, content standards for new indie games will be the same as those for regular third and first-party games – if you can’t do show it in a one-man indie bedroom project, you can’t have it in your triple-A, big-budget hack-and-slash, either.
The next stage of the ID@Xbox programme is to roll out development tools to everybody with an Xbox One. According to Charla, the end goal for ID@Xbox is to have every player in the world capable of making their own game, whatever their ability: “That’s [players] at all levels,” he says, “from coding a game in C++, to someone who can’t code at all using something like Project Spark.”
When it came to discussing ID@Xbox’s controversial parity clause (which states that while Microsoft doesn’t require exclusivity for indie games, it does require them to launch on Xbox One at the same time as other platforms), Charla was less forthcoming – although there was a hint that the policy might work on more of a case-by-case basis than the blanket ‘no’ that it’s been reported as thus far.
“Unfortunately we really don’t comment on our publishing policies,” he said. “Obviously we’ve heard the feedback from developers and we’re looking at all the way the ways we can to lower barriers for developers, but I really can’t comment on publishing policies. The reality is that developers should get in touch with us and talk. “