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Microsoft announces indie self-publishing program for Xbox One

by William Schwartz

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Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox One is that everyone can “be a creator” on the console, explained company executive Marc Whitten after a rash of rumors suggested a massive policy shift for publishing on the console. The Vice President explained that “Every Xbox One can be used for development. Every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox Live.”

Every Xbox One can be used to develop games and take advantage of all features like the Cloud and Xbox Live

This signals a huge shift away from their policies used on the Xbox 360. Where developers had to publish their games through a third party, or through Microsoft Game Studios. And if they couldn’t find a publisher, developers could take to the smaller stage of the Xbox Live Indie Games Channel.

Changes in strategy are nothing new for the Xbox One, it seems like every week we’re getting a new line out of Microsoft about the console. But this one is big, especially for developers. The Xbox 360 has gotten a bad wrap in recent years for being hard to work with, and self publishing would be a full embrace to the indie development community. Big names like Jonathon Blow and Phil Fish have been quite vocal about their dislike for Xbox Live and the Xbox brand, if just because of the hoops that were needed to jump through to get a game on the platform.

Sony’s dedication to the smaller studios has been evident in recent months. We’ve seen all sorts of games arriving on the PS Vita, and many are slated to make the journey to the PS4. Speaking with some of these developers at E3 2013, one topic kept coming up, and that was self-publishing. Important because many of these independent games are made by very small teams with shoestring budgets. This helps put more money in the pockets of the developers in the long run, and should give gamers more great content.

Whitten says that the company will have more to share about this new initiative at Gamescom in August.

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