|Every Xbox One sold at retail can be used to develop games, Microsoft
said Wednesday, also confirming that game developers will be able to
self-publish their games on the new console. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
Earlier today, Game Informer reported that Microsoft
would be making yet another reversal of policy concerning its upcoming
Xbox One game console. Though it said in May when it announced the
hardware that game creators would have to go through a publisher to get their games on Xbox One, it now says that developers will be able to self-publish their work on the platform.
Microsoft quickly issued a statement confirming Game Informer‘s report and promising more details at the Gamescom conference, to be held next month in Cologne, Germany. (Game Informer editor in chief Andy McNamara said on Twitter that Microsoft is “angry” about the details coming to light today.)
Xbox executive Marc Whitten issued the following statement to Engadget:
“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.”
That second sentence would seem to confirm an additional fact dug up by Game Informer,
which said that “every Xbox One unit can be converted to a debug
console.” This would mean that any Xbox One purchased at retail could be
authorized by Microsoft to play pre-release game code, thus making it
much less expensive to develop and test Xbox One games since specialized
hardware would not be required.
Numerous game developers have spoken of serious problems with the way Microsoft runs the Xbox Live Arcade downloadable game service for the Xbox 360,
chief among them the requirement that developers have a publisher.
Oddworld Inhabitants’ Lorne Lanning summed it up well in an interview with Eurogamer:
“”Why do we need a publisher when we self-finance our games, we build
our own IP, we manage our own IP and we’ve turned nearly two million
units online…? Why? What’s wrong with us?”
In contrast, Microsoft’s chief rival in the console space, Sony, made
a huge to-do at the E3 Expo last month about its more indie-friendly
policies, bringing a parade of smaller developers on stage to show their
new games and extol the virtues of PlayStation 4 as a convenient,
lucrative platform for developers to freely self-publish their games.
Microsoft has a rather deep hole to climb out of, and we’ll see how it plans to do it at Gamescom.