Aug 1, 2013
Since the gaming world decided Microsoft were public enemy number 1, due to a number of public relations and policy gaffes, they have been consistently pitching woo to win back the hearts of those who have scorned them. Their latest pitch involves announcing that they will indeed be allowing indie developers to self-publish on the Xbox One but as we shall see much remains to be explained.
Indie games are a growing force within the gaming industry and their share of the market is predicted to grow further in the coming years. With mobile gaming creating new opportunities for smaller developers consumers are getting used to a wide variety of choice in the gaming market and people were critical of Microsoft’s treatment of smaller developers.
Sony and Nintendo both have more progressive opinions on Indie self-publishing, allowing them to release their games into the wild worlds that are the console markets. Microsoft had not previously made a clear decision on how it would handle publishing with small developers, but most of the communication coming out of the company suggested staying the course with the currently very unpopular Xbox 360 system.
Under this system, Indie games are ‘ghettoised’ to the Xbox Live Indie Games separate section and critics have argues that this totally minimises a game’s discoverability and that good indie titles are going unnoticed because they are not visible enough. To gain visibility, a small developer would need to enter an agreement with a publishing partner which would mean potentially losing a large chunk of a game’s revenue.
Microsoft’s Marc Whitten confirmed last week to Engadget that:
“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.”
It has also since been confirmed that indie games released for the console will not be walled off from the other games.
Some have reacted cautiously, suggesting that they hope small developers will have access to all of the Xbox One’s features and hardware to ensure they can get good performance from the console. This seems somewhat of a distraction though as indie games do not often require huge amounts of hardware power and also the quote above seems to suggest that developers will have access to “all of the features” of the console.
Others have reacted more positively; Pete Angstadt one of a team of two behind the excellent game Cannon Brawl recently said to Gaming IQ “If it’s true it seems like a good move. All I want is for lots of people to play Cannon Brawl and it plays really well on a controller, so bringing it to Xbox One would be awesome. Anything that Microsoft does to make that easier, I’m all for it.”
As with much in this ‘console war’ we will have to wait to see the details of this story, but it seems that if Microsoft keeps pitching woo like Sandy Koufax, they may make up for their early troubles.