ID@Xbox has been unveiled in Cologne, marking the start of Microsoft's charge into the indie self-publishing space. We've got a run-down of what it is, how it works and what it could mean for indies on Xbox One moving forward.
Announced by Microsoft during its pre-gamescom address, ID@Xbox is a new program that will target, support and showcase indie developers on the Xbox One platform. In a document sent to VG247 last week, the company stated that it consulted 50 independent developers to form a service that best catered to their needs.
The program sees registered developers given two free Xbox One development kits and full access to platform staples such as Kinect compatibility and the entire Xbox Live toolset which encompasses Xbox
SmartGlass, multiplayer support, Achievements, Gamerscore and more. There are no application fees and members will not be charged for certification or title updates.
Applications to the service are open as of today over at the ID@Xbox homepage.
It appears that seasoned applicants will be fast-tracked into the program, as a line in the supporting document states that Xbox One developer status "Will be granted with priority to independent game developers who have a proven track record of shipping games on console, PC, mobile or tablet."
Harking back to recent statements from Microsoft, the document adds, "Longer term, our plan is to enable any Xbox One console to be used as a development kit for self-publishing purposes. This means that any hobbyist with a great game idea can make it come to life on Xbox One," suggesting that truly independent self-publishing is truly a staple of the company's strategy moving forward.
The ID@Xbox director is Microsoft's Chris Charla, who will maintain communications with registered developers, along with a support team to respond to queries and needs of members. The company will also host a series of ID@Xbox events in London, Seattle and San Francisco starting this Fall, with a view to securing more talent.
In a statement provided to VG247, Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten wrote, “Xbox One was built from the ground up to be a great platform for developers of any size to create and share their ideas with the world.
"We are committed to bringing together the imagination of game developers from around the world together with the power of Xbox One. We know Xbox fans will fall in love with the quality and diversity of games on our platform. We are committed to ID@Xbox and are fully invested in helping independent developers succeed on Xbox One."
Microsoft's Phil Harrison added, “I am really looking forward to the diversity and creativity of games that will come to Xbox One through the ID@Xbox program. We’ve worked with the community of developers to craft a platform that helps creators self-publish on Xbox One – irrespective of their size or location.”
Their quotes were followed up by three indies, starting with SpyParty's Chris Hecker, who said, "I'm really excited that Microsoft has listened to feedback from developers and created this program. As an independent developer, I want ‘SpyParty’ to be available to as many players as possible, and it feels like Microsoft is interested in not only removing roadblocks for indies to get their games on Xbox One, but they're also genuinely interested in finding ways to bring new and innovative indie games to their platform to help games reach their potential as an art and entertainment form."
Splash Damage's Paul Wedgwood said of the program, “You want to be able to take advantage of really awesome things with the Xbox One, like the fact that it comes with a Kinect, the fact that it’s going have cloud-based services, having really great Achievements. But it’s also critical that people can find you, that you can be discovered.”
The Behemoth's John Baez concluded, “It's all about discoverability because if you're a gamer, you don't want to spend half an hour trying to find something."
We'll have more on ID@Xbox as it unfolds this week.