Yes, you’ll be able to use your Xbox One as a dev kit and self-publish your games
It's time for the Xbox One dance. First, something is rumored. We've checked that box when it comes to self-publishing and the ability to turn retail Xbox One units into developer kits. Then, Microsoft says something, and we've just checked that box as well: It looks like this is actually happening! The third step is when the rest of the details are announced, and we get to see the policies in stark black and white.
Let's get this ball rolling: This is what Microsoft's Marc Whitten said in a statement:
Our vision is that every person can be a creator. 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. We’ll have more details on the program and the timeline at Gamescom in August.
That sounds pretty good, right? Following up with Polygon, Whitten said that this was part of a larger roadmap, that these features won't be 100 percent available at launch, but sometime in the first year.
“Our intention is that there will not be an indie ghetto,” Whitten said to Polygon. “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.”
This is an interesting turnaround, as I've been told in the past, but multiple executives, that the self-publishing rules that were put in place back in the 360 days would be continuing. We also know that there isn't a section for “indie” games versus regular games, instead the Xbox One will simply feature games, no matter where they come from.
If this move means that developers no longer need to sign with a publisher, that's great news. If Microsoft is simply re-doing the barely supported Xbox Live Indie Game channel, that's not such great news.
I'd also be hesitant to say that the Xbox One is now a $500 developer kit, since we don't know if unlocking that usage will carry an extra licensing fee or the use of specialized programs purchased and installed via Xbox Live. This sounds good so far, but there are many unanswered questions. We'll learn more at GamesCom, and hopefully there aren't a bunch of “gotchas” hidden somewhere in the rules of these new policies.