Microsoft to Allow Self-Publishing, Xbox One Retail Consoles Double as Dev Kits

Not only will Microsoft be allowing indie developers to self-publish their titles on the Xbox One, but any retail console will double as a developer – or debug – machine. This is big news as development kits have, in the past, cost substantially more than retail consoles.

It’s perhaps the first sign that Microsoft realise the worth of independent developers going in to the next generation and while developing on your console may cost a fee a la Apple’s system, it’s very much a win for Microsoft.

This should mean, however, that every Xbox One console can run in-progress (debug) game code, which should make it easier for us to preview upcoming titles on Xbox One without having a separate system. So, good news all round.

Previously, Sony have said that they would distribute debug PS4 systems to Universities, confirming that not all PS4s will act as development kits.

There will be more information on this at Gamescom, which should be massive this year. Xbox Corporate VP, Marc Whitten, issued a full statement to Engadget, saying:

“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.”

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68 Comments

  1. Huge.

    Rumours circulated this morning that it’ll be limited (or something will) to the Windows 8 portion, and a subset of RAM, but still massive news.

    Your move, Sony.

    • I am not sure Sony needs to be too worried just yet. From Polygon:

      It’s a “vision,” Whitten clarified to Polygon, because the system won’t all be in place at launch. “It’s how we architectured the [Xbox One],” he said. “But it won’t all be there at launch.”

      http://www.polygon.com/2013/7/24/4553946/microsoft-details-xbox-one-indie-self-publishing

      If it turns out to be true that the resources available to self published games are more limited than games that have a publisher, a lot of the goodwill MS has achieved with this announcement will evaporate in short order. Jonathan Blow is already on record criticizing the 5GB available in the Xbox OS image and explained that “more RAM means developers spend less time in contortions to make the game run on the machine, more time making the actual game good.”

      https://twitter.com/Jonathan_Blow/statuses/343884987705217024

      That said, Sony should hire more people to support @shahidkamal. It sounds like he is working really hard at convincing Indie devs to release their games on Sony platforms.

    • One step for Xbox, while SONY made already ten of them. No moves needed, Xbox is still behind.

    • “Your move Sony”

      What?

      Sony made the first move, all MS have done is try and match it (in the face of huge indie dev criticism).

      Sony are still leading this area. Check out Brian Provinciano’s comments (Retro City Rampage) on Engadget…

      “I’m very happy to see this. After all of the developers have spoken out, they’re finally listening. However, this is yet another example of them changing policy, but it sounding better than it is when the whole story is revealed. Make no mistake; while this is a great thing, it’s again not the equivalent to what other platforms offer. On PS4, for example, developers can tap right into the system; use every bit of RAM and all of its power. Indies have access to everything that the AAA studios do, from platform support to development and release. The indication on Xbox One is that it’s essentially XBLIG 2.0. Instead of XNA, it’s Windows 8. Windows 8, which is already struggling to gain developer interest, will gain a boost from developers wishing to target the console. However, it won’t be as full-fledged as published games on the system.

      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. 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.

      It’s important to me that consumers don’t see things as black and white. There are still strings attached to this policy change.”

      • wow, thats quite devastating to be honest.

      • I think the comment from Brian Provinciano’s just nailed it.

      • Microsoft are desperately trying to either counter Sony’s PS4 features, or failing that, spreading FUD.

    • Its not that Huge in the grand scheme of things, Sony have been on the case for a while. Everyone knows this is just a quick response to claw back customers as they leave in their thousands.
      If I was a game developer, my first choice would be Sony, mainly for their advertising of their big support for Indie games next gen. Microsoft, all they have said is their machine can debug. Does that mean support? Not from them, they never have, never will IMO.

      • Sony won’t let you dev on a PS4.

        This is HUGE.

      • If you want iOS level games on your console, then yes, this will be huge. Otherwise? Not so much.

      • What? Why would they be ‘iOS’ level? And even if they are, what’s wrong with that? Some of the best games in recent years are for mobile devices… :/

      • You’re kidding right? xD

      • Me? No.

        Year Walk.
        Super Hexagon.
        Ridiculous Fishing.
        Tiny Thief.

        All wonderful.

      • Why would I say that? Because they are limiting the ressources the games can access and with every console being a potential dev kit the amount of garbage is likely to flood the market just like on other mobile platforms.
        There is already a console out there where every console is a dev kit. It’s called the OUYA and costs 400$ less than the Xbox One.
        Please excuse me if I’m being pessimistic about this, especially coming from Microsoft.

      • True…as for things that kill time in the toilet.

      • Alex I believe that even if Sony did let you Dev on the PS4, it wouldn’t be a HUGE thing for 99% of those who buy one.

        Xbox One will now be hacked to pieces for starters, and Microsoft still have shit support. They are still playing catchup.

      • For all we know this could be a glorified Windows 8 app development platform that is limited to the embedded Windows 8 OS of their three OS hybrid system.
        Sony already is selling dev units in retail stores. Every Vita is a dev unit for the Playstation Mobile platform, which in my opinion is a much better fit than having such games / apps on a home console.

      • The issue here is, clarify what you mean by ‘dev on’ – deploy your code to your own Xbox One – well MS did that with the 360 and it came with a developer fee and in the last couple of years of it’s life MS’s support of XNA was abysmal as far as 360 was concerned, even pitching it steadfastly for WP8 rather than 360 in it’s last iteration.

        Being able to dev on your console might be big, but good and continued support is HUGE – XNA very quickly turned into a PR spin, a tick on the checklist between 360 and PS3.

  2. Cool at this rate Xbone will be called PS4 by launch.. :D

    But that Dev kit is interesting I wonder if Sony will do the same?

    Now we’re down to Mandatory Kinect and higher price.

    Still i’m invested in ps3 via friends/trophies so ps4 for me thne xbone when it’s cheaper and larger excluisve base.

  3. Still boils down to the games for me, what sony have already revealed speaks to me more, and you can’t get around the fact that sony have a much much larger internal development studio.

  4. Great news for everyone, especially Indies and amatuer game makers.

    Gamescom is just going to be one huge PR battle between Microsoft and Sony.

  5. Good that MS reacts to all the negative critic and changes some important things now. Also shows that they seem to realize how wrong their initial model was. But if they want me to even consider buying a XB1, they’ll have to make another U-turn and get rid of the mandatory Kinect surveillance.

  6. So by the time release date comes, it’ll be exactly the same but once again PS4 will graphically be better.

    • Once again? At least half (multiplat) titles were better looking on 360.

      Clear spec disparity this time around though.

      • Lol dude that’s 2006, name a multi plat that’s better on Xbox now better yet name an exclusive on Xbox better looking than a ps

      • I think Awayze means specs-wise rather than graphically. The PS3 is a bit more “powerful” than the 360, but it’s considerably more difficult to develop for and port to, which is what led to multiplatform titles being superior on the 360 most of the time.

      • @beeje13 Are you sure about that ? Majority of the faceoffs on digital foundary Xbox won.

      • So we’re only taking multiplats into account?

        Not the fact that Uncharted was better looking than any Xbox exclusive, as was Killzone. It’s clear which console – when in the right hands and developed exclusively for – can put out the best graphics.

  7. I’m not sure I understand this. To develop and self publish you would still need more than the console, and how does it change things in respect to the cloud and the achievements? Whats the actual win for the typical consumer?

    • A token gesture maybe?

      And I don’t think it changes anything re: achievements, cloud. MS just plastered their PR talk on the announcement, its hard to spot self publishing in the rest of the BS

  8. I have a feeling the debug thing is going to backfire massively. It will make hacking Xbox One so much easier.

    • Yeah, there’s got to be a good reason the competition aren’t doing this. There’s gonna be a cloud to go with this silver lining… I wonder if that’ll turn out to be a pun?

    • Yeah, it can run titles in a different state => hacked/copied versions then.

      Its a pity, its like they can do no good.

    • Piracy was my first thought.

      • Same here.
        And depending on the developer subscription fee to gain access to these features it may end up even more expensive than a regular dev kit would have costed a few years down the line.

      • Same here, Jimmy. First thing was “uh… easier to hack?” but if not. Good stuff.

      • Maybe that’s why they are limiting the ressources that can be accessed by such software. Full Xbox One games will probably not run on limited ressources.
        However, even if piracy becomes a thing because of this, they will still collect your monthly developer fee. It will basically be a OnLive flatrate service with illegal games downloads. :P

    • It’ll probably be easier to hack, but easier to hack might mean more sales from people that want to run homebrew. personally if Xbox One gets hacked I’ll buy one just for a homebrew media server

      • There are cheaper alternative for that. :P

  9. @ Tuffcub

    Yeah. That side of things seem odd too.

  10. Wow, some good Xbox One news. How come they didn’t mention this earlier?

    • Because they decided to do this AFTER they’ve pissed off every indie developer around the globe.
      That’s the reason why this system won’t be in place come launch.
      This is just another reaction to what Sony is doing with the PS4 combined with the backlash they are getting.
      At this point it would probably be better to just fire the people in charge for the Xbox One design and policies.

    • Ekhem, heloooo! because they did not intend to be like this, but due to SONY clearly ‘outpowering’ them at all levels, they changed their mind :)

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