Today's hardware Friday post is a little different. It's not about hardware directly, but about an exciting announcement by Xbox Vice President Phil Harrison about development opportunities for the independent dev for the Xbox One...
I was an independent developer for 10 years before coming to Microsoft as the Director of Portfolio for Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) and I’m excited to be taking on a new role as the Director of ID@Xbox.
Any time someone asks me about Microsoft and independent developers, I think back to Microsoft’s very first product, created in 1975 in a college dorm room by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. It was a tool for developers – BASIC for the Altair 8800, the first personal computer. It took the Altair from a box with switches and LEDS that didn’t do all that much to a machine that could be used by a wide array of people to do a lot of really interesting things, like write games.
Now we’re on the cusp of a new generation with Xbox One and other consoles, and it’s a great time to reflect on independent developers and opportunities for them on new consoles.
As we thought about the new Xbox One and how games could harness the technology, it became clear we’re at a great moment in time where the independent development scene has matured and changed dramatically. In talking with scores of independent developers over the past year, it’s clear they are ready for new ways to develop and reach customers. So, we’re acting to meet the needs of the development community and in turn, enable a proliferation of games for Xbox fans.
At gamescom today, we announced a new program for Xbox One, Independent Developers @ Xbox (ID@Xbox), which I am super excited to be part of. It’s a program we built based on feedback from over 50 developers which enables self-publishing of digital games on Xbox One. The program will offer developers access to development kits at no charge and an easy path for developers to build, publish and sell their games on Xbox One.
Games that come through this program will be able to access the exact same features as any other large game company on Xbox One: Achievements, Gamerscore, Kinect, Xbox SmartGlass, Xbox cloud services and more. What’s also exciting is that these games will be available in the exact same marketplace (Xbox One Store) as every other game on Xbox One, making discovery for players easier by using all the curation and discovery tools that Xbox One will offer, including Spotlight, Trending, Recommendations and great social discovery with features like Game DVR and Upload.
We’re really proud to offer this third path onto Xbox One for developers, and we’re excited to see what independent developers will bring to the system. At the same time, many independent developers will still want to work with a publisher, either Microsoft Studios or a third party, to bring their content to Xbox One. Publishers can provide support such as testing, QA, funding and marketing and promotion services. While some independent developers want to “do it themselves,” for others working with a publisher is the right decision, so they can focus 100 percent on the game itself. It all comes down to enabling developers to make the choice that makes the most sense for them. That’s ultimately what’s going to deliver the broadest and best games onto our platform for gamers.
It’s also important to remember that our vision is that anyone will be able to create using Xbox One. Marc Whitten, Xbox Chief Product Officer, has said that eventually we’ll enable anyone to make games for Xbox One using their Xbox One console as a development solution. (In the meantime, there’s a super exciting product coming to Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Windows 8 for budding creators. It’s called “Project Spark” and anyone can make surprisingly deep interactive game content – you can even use Kinect in your projects!).
At the end of the day, when you turn on your TV, we want Xbox One to have the broadest and most diverse content possible. Whether you’re in the mood for a big budget shooter, a contemplative side scroller, or something totally different that we can’t even imagine yet. The best way to deliver that experience is by doing what we’ve always done: making life easy for developers, as they do the hard work of creating fantastic game experiences for us all to enjoy.
If you’re interested in reading more about how to become a certified Xbox One developer through the ID@Xbox program, visit our newly launched website: www.xbox.com/id.
The ID@Xbox program enables qualified game developers of all sizes to unleash their creativity by self-publishing digital games on Xbox One.
We’d love for you and your team to apply to become a registered developer for Xbox One. Once that happens, we can get you the tools you need to create great content on Xbox One. It starts with us providing you two Xbox One development kits, as well as access to a full suite of developer documentation, developer forums, etc.
In addition, we’re going to be developing documentation for registered ID@Xbox developers that explains some details you’ll need for console publishing, such as getting ratings, addressing geopolitical policies, etc. We’re also going to be providing some best practices for things like promotion and marketing – things that aren’t directly related to coding games, but that can have a big effect on your success. Our goal is to give you the tools your studio needs to maximize your success on Xbox One.
Here’s a chart of the process, it’s pretty straightforward:
Once your kits are up and running, you’ll be ready to submit a game information form so that we can understand what you are building and how we may be able to help with the development and discovery of your game. That’s the beginning of the Title License Agreement (TLA) process. After your submission is reviewed, you will receive a Title ID for your project and you’re good to go!
When you’re getting ready to submit your game for certification and release, you’ll get in contact with our release managers who will take you through the process. Again, we’ll have documentation available so you’ll know what’s expected and needed to have a smooth certification process that enables you to get your game to players as quickly as possible.
What are the criteria for becoming a member of ID@Xbox?
Of course, we’ll be evaluating each developer application individually on its own merits, but in the initial phase of ID@Xbox, we are looking for professional independent game developers who have a proven track record of shipping games on console, PC, mobile, or tablet. We want to ensure your success in your development effort on Xbox One. Developing and publishing a console game is not trivial!
Our longer term plan is that anyone with a retail Xbox One will be able to develop, publish, and sell their game on Xbox Live.
What is the game information form like? What are the standards?
Do ID@Xbox games have to go through certification?
Where will my game be on the Marketplace?
Can I use my retail kit as a development kit?
Will ID@Xbox have full access to everything else that First and Third Party games have?
So I would expect more Xbox One related development news here when we near the Xbox One release date...