Microsoft today announced a new initiative to let any game developer create and sell games on its Xbox platform without having to go through any of the company’s preexisting channels. The Xbox Live Creators Program, as it’s called, is designed to let an indie team or solo developer take a retail Xbox, which doubles as a dev kit, and use it to create and self-publish the title to the Xbox marketplace. Prior to today, developers had to part of an established game development or media company, or they had to apply through Microsoft’s ID@Xbox indie game program to receive self-publishing capabilities.
That are a couple of stipulations involved with the new program, which remains in a preview stage for now until it opens up to the general public soon. For one, the game you’re making must be a Universal Windows App, so that it can run on any Windows 10 device and not simply the Xbox One. Microsoft also reserves the right to remove your game from the store if it has “harmful or inappropriate content,” as the company won’t be binding any devs with nondisclosure agreements or concept approvals.
The program isn’t free. There’s a one-time fee to that ranges from $20 to $100, and it’s unclear right now how Microsoft plans on charging some developers more or less than others. Even then, unless a developer joins the ID@Xbox program, they won’t be able to enable online multiplayer for the Xbox version of the game or access the Xbox achievements feature. The Creators Program does let you still access Xbox’s leaderboards and party chat features. In one potential downside, games listed through the program will be kept in a separate section of the Xbox Store, which could limit their exposure to reach as wide an audience as ID@Xbox titles.
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
“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,” Chris Charla, director of the ID@Xbox program, wrote in a blog post. “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.”