The annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco never fails to bring about surprises and this year was no different, with Microsoft announcing a new opportunity for developers to create and sell games on its Xbox platform.
This Xbox Live Creators Program, as it has been dubbed, lets either a team or a solo developer create a game via a retail Xbox One console, that also doubles up as a development kit, and then self-publish the title to the Xbox Marketplace. Before this program, developers who wished to do this were required to go through an already established game development or media company or apply via ID@Xbox which allowed them to receive permission to self-publish.
“With the Creators Program, anyone can integrate Xbox Live sign-in, presence, and social features into their UWP games, then publish their game to Xbox One and Windows 10,” explained Chris Charla, director of the ID@Xbox program in a statement on Xbox.com, following “This means their title can see exposure to every Xbox One owner across the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio this holiday, as well as hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs, and millions of folks using the Xbox app on mobile platforms.” However, some game developers were quick to pick up on a potential flaw when it came to the program, such as the fact that the game you’re creating must first be a Universal Windows app, so that it can run on any Windows 10 device as well as Xbox One. Another potential downfall of the program is that developers won’t be able to access the Xbox achievement feature nor enable online multiplayer for the game and Chara said that those who wish to gain the “max power” of Xbox One and Project Scorpio can do so via the use of a hardware-based SDK, applying for ID@Xbox or work alongside a third-party publisher. They can still access features such as leaderboards and chat features, though.
The Creators Program itself isn’t free, but not too expensive either. A one-off fee stands somewhere between $20-$100, but it remains unclear as to how some developers might be charged more than others. All of the games created through the program will be stored in their own section of the Xbox store, which certain developers have criticized due to a lack of exposure that their games will receive.
This is the most worrying part. It sounds like (though I could be wrong) that these games won't appear in the main store. pic.twitter.com/iBkeMejUKQ
— Nick Gravelyn (@nickgravelyn) March 1, 2017
The program currently remains in preview stage but is due to be released for the general public any time soon. As expected, Microsoft reserve the right to remove any game from their store that they believe contains inappropriate content. Let’s hope that this program has more success than the Xbox Live Indie Games that Microsoft announced for the Xbox Live in 2006 but was shut down last year.