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A few months ago we reported on the PS4 is to be a self-publishing platform for indie studios. Xbox, on the other hand, has been strangely quiet in this regard. Until now at least. Flaunting the term “discoverability” around a lot, Xbox confirmed recent speculation that the Xbox One will be pro-indie indeed. However wonderful this news may be, some developers still believe that the system is still too closed to lure them away from other platforms.
Either way, the fact that Microsoft has eventually decided to allow self-publishing is an important step in cheering up the gaming communities and its general reputation as a gaming console.
The report initially came from Game Informer and says that developers would be able to set their own, pricing, release dates after two weeks of verification and will not be published under the Xbox Live Indie Games category as was the case with the Xbox 360. The self-publishing guidelines seems very much similar to that of Apple’s iTunes store or the Google Play store.
But is it an adequate platform to expect the next Minecraft or Angry Birds? We’ll have to wait and see.
Marc Whitten, corporate vice president at Xbox said the following in a statement reported by Polygon:
“Our intention is that there will not be an indie ghetto. I do believe in some curation and I want the best to flow to the top. But I also want to be able to see what’s trending on the surface. At the end of the day, discoverability will be driven by spotlight human curation and by usage.”
There are doubts of this dev initiative being open to Windows App Store in making it more compatible with tablets and PCs though that is part of Whitman’s long-term vision and is something that could really balance the odds in Microsoft’s favour.
Will this approach be enough for indie developers, or is it going to become something like the Windows app store currently is — struggling to gain competitive developers’ interest.
For now though what Microsoft wants is “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.”
Although this move is going in the right direction, as certain indie developers point out on Engadget, Xbox’s policy is still quite limited compared to the PlayStation. After going into some technicalities of why that exactly is, many note that although this is great news, we’ll still have to wait and hear all the details before jumping the gun.
Xbox is planning on including more details and features in the coming weeks and next month at Gamescom.