Microsoft has announced a new scheme for indie game developers for the Xbox One called [email protected] The new scheme will allow smaller developers to publish their games using the Xbox Live platform.
Developers interested in getting their creations published on Xbox Live can register on the Xbox website and be provided with the necessary tools to begin their development. These tools include two Xbox One development kits with full documentation and access to the Xbox One developer forums. Microsoft will also provide developers with handy information regarding marketing and promotion to help ensure the success of any games they subsequently develop.
Developers can propose a game idea to receive a game Title ID, and can also receive assistance from Microsoft in the development of the game idea. For its initial phase, the [email protected] scheme seems to be limited to established games developers with a proven track record of producing good quality games for PC, mobile or tablet, but Microsoft states that it also wishes to make the scheme open to all Xbox One users further down the line.
The [email protected] scheme has been announced just a couple of weeks after a similar program was launched for Windows 8, called “App Builder Rewards”. The Windows 8 scheme was designed to encourage more developers to produce Metro apps for the struggling desktop operating system. As Windows 8 has taken a huge detour from older Windows systems, and focussed more on its Windows Phone inspired ‘Metro’ tile system, it has found that one of the chief complaints from users is a lack of meaningful apps. Likewise, although Windows Phone has received much critical acclaim one of its biggest drawbacks is the lack of apps available when compared to iOS or Android
App Builder Rewards allows developers to collect points for successfully publishing Metro apps, and these points can be redeemed for upgrades to Windows 8 Pro or various Xbox titles. When the scheme was first announced many people commented that it smacked of desperation on Microsoft’s part and wouldn’t result in any meaningful increase in the quality or quantity of apps available for Windows 8.
With this latest [email protected] scheme Microsoft runs the risk of attracting the same accusations. The Xbox One has not yet launched of course, yet Microsoft is still greatly concerned about the negative reaction to the Xbox One unveiling earlier in the year.
Prior to the unveiling of the latest Microsoft games console and its chief Sony competitor, the PlayStation 4, it was the Xbox One which was the most eagerly anticipated. But Microsoft’s insistence on using heavily restrictive DRM and tying games to individual consoles (which will completely remove any possibility of purchasing second hand games or of Xbox users lending games to friends), interest in the Xbox One console has drastically diminished and Sony looks set to reap the rewards immensely when the PlayStation 4 is launched later this year.
The [email protected] scheme could thus be another attempt to rekindle interest in the Xbox One. Microsoft has already promised to downplay some of its restrictive DRM measures but unfortunately some of the features that have been complained about the most by Xbox users are so heavily ingrained into the design of the Xbox One that they cannot be removed this late in development.
[email protected] is likely to do little to pique the interest of everyday Xbox users, most of whom are not in the business of game development. However, it may create a climate of smaller indie games and game development that could give Microsoft more of an edge over its now dominant Sony rival in the years to come. This all depends on how well indie games developers take to the scheme of course, or whether they also take the opinion that it is a desperate act on Microsoft’s behalf.
Simon writes for UK money saving community Suppose.com