Indies mixed on Xbox One self-publishing

Thursday, 25 July 2013 03:37 GMT By Brenna Hillier

In a surprise turn around from its historical policies, Microsoft has announced it will allow self-publishing on the Xbox One. Unsurprisingly, the news has raised both excitement and skepticism among indie developers.

Shack News collated a couple of responses to today’s news.

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine creator Andy Schatz of Pocketwatch Games said that an open platform is much better, because it gets rid of arbiters of taste, reduces energy expended on pitching games, and negates the need for publishers.

“While I enjoyed working with [publisher Majesco], had self-publishing been an option on the Xbox 360 it would have saved me a lot of trouble in the long run, since my destination platform was in limbo until a year before launch,” Schatz noted.

“If Microsoft doesn’t promote your game, it will still be a gigantic uphill battle to see any sort of meaningful sales,” he added.

TowerFall creator Matt Thorson said self-publishing would make “a huge difference” to him.

“For me, lack of self-publishing makes it very difficult to consider launching on a platform. I’ve never worked with Microsoft, but I’ve heard horror stories from other indies,” he said.

“Fingers crossed they’re aware of the problems and are ready to put in the work to catch up to Sony. They seem to be on the right track with this and the recent removal of the XBLA patch fee.”

But Jennifer Schneidereit of Tengami developer Nyamyam Games was not so ethusiastic.

“Up until now Microsoft have displayed a mentality that excludes independent developers,” she said.

“This makes it difficult for me to trust their motives for reversing their stance now. From my time at Microsoft, I know that company goals and direction change frequently. These new plans might just be a last minute band-aid and we’ll end up with a similar situation to Xbox Live Indie Games, where Microsoft provides a system, but doesn’t give it the support it needs to be successful.”

“Microsoft will have to do a lot more to gain my trust than just changing their self-publishing policy.”

Polygon also spoke to a couple of developers, including Jamie Cheng of Klei Entertainment.

“I think the real test will be the discoverability of the games on the dashboard,” Cheng said.

“The gauge of a healthy channel is the success of the middle – it’s not enough that a few games are hits, there also needs to be a wide base of developers that are making a decent income. This lowers the threshold and allows more developers to jump in and take risks.”

Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano said Microsoft has a way to go to catch up with Sony, saying he has heard that the tools on ffer through self-publishing are quite limited.

“After my experience working with them to release on Xbox 360, I have no interest in even buying an Xbox One, let alone developing for it,” he added.

“The policy changes are great, but they don’t undo the experience I had. I’m not ready to forget what I went through. Working with Microsoft was the unhappiest point of my career. Policies are one thing, but developer relations are another.”

Peter Bartholow of Skullgirls developer Lab Zero Games is also wary.

“I’d need to see the fine print before making any kind of final judgment. After all, these new policies were crafted by the same people that made the last set of awful policies,” he said.

Visit the Shack and Poly links above for more comments from indie developers.

Although The company’s major rival is Sony, one of the more interesting comparisons to make after Microsoft’s announcement today is with Nintendo, which has apparently been doing quite a good job of fostering indies behind the scenes.