Another major backflip by Microsoft will see independent developers able to distribute their own games on Xbox One – without a publishing partner. The company was planning a big announcement at this year’s Gamescom event in Germany, but somehow, the cat got out of the bag a little early.
Marc Whitten, Xbox chief product officer explains:
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.
At this stage, we know that developers will be able to make their own decisions on release dates and game pricing, as Microsoft adopts an iTunes-like certification process. On one hand, this means a less-indepth examination of indie game code (focussing mainly on terms of service breaches and major bugs), but it also means the process can be turned around within a targeted 14-day window from submission to approval.
…and what Whitten was talking about where “every Xbox One can be used for development”? The standard Xbox One retail unit will be convertible into a debug console, able to play pre-release code. The Xbox 360 requires two different hardware setups, with debug machines difficult to acquire for small groups. Now, Microsoft is planning on scrapping the hardware requirement, and simply authorising specific consoles to play the incomplete code. This authorisation process is expected to be adapted for large-scale beta testing as well.
More information on just how this will work is still scheduled for Gamescom, including dates. We do know that the devkit authorisation system will not be in place at the console’s launch, but at this stage, details on indie publishing remain sketchy.