Microsoft is working on Project Moorcroft, a program designed to bring early game demos to Xbox Game Pass subscribers. The demos will be similar to the limited levels and early samples of games that fans would typically spend hours waiting in line to play at E3 or PAX.
These early game demos have largely been lost in the transition to virtual game conferences during the pandemic, and they’re key for indie developers trying to generate awareness for their titles. Sarah Bond, Microsoft’s head of gaming ecosystem, describes Project Moorcroft as a way to bring back that E3-like experience.
“Why don’t we take Game Pass, and make it like the show floor?” says Bond. “Why don’t we make it possible for a developer to take a piece, a level of their game, release it into Game Pass, generate excitement for what’s coming, and also get that really valuable feedback as they’re tuning and preparing their game for launch.”
Game demos like this are a lot of work for developers, especially getting them ready for what was the usual annual E3 conference. While E3 is not happening in person or even virtually this year, Microsoft is setting up this program to financially reward developers that are willing to take the time to create these demos.
“We’ve set up the program and structured it so that developers actually get financial compensation for the game that actually benefits them financially, and also get the benefit of the great feedback as well,” explains Bond.
Project Moorcroft is still being worked on inside Microsoft, but the plan is for curated game demos to start rolling out within the next year. The initial focus will be on independent developers, and any game developer will be compensated and be able to view how their demos perform.
Project Moorcroft is another part of Microsoft’s Xbox platform announcements for 2022. The software giant is also bringing a new Xbox TV app to Samsung’s 2022 smart TVs later this month, expanding Xbox Cloud Gaming to Argentina and New Zealand, and enabling most Xbox games to be played through Xbox Cloud Gaming soon.