But Still "Strings Attached"
Microsoft has pulled off another screeching policy U-Turn, announcing that independent developers will in fact be able to self-publish on the Xbox One after all. Studios can even unlock standard retail consoles to become dev kits, which is a very forward-thinking step.
However, the service itself may be somewhat limited.
"Our vision is that every person can be a creator," Microsoft's Mark Whitten told Engadget in a statement. "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."
Achievements can also be added to self-published games, Whitten confirmed. This is good news, but a few indie studios have spoken out to suggest that the service will be akin to another segrated Xbox Live Indie Games channel as opposed to true self-publishing.
"This is yet another example of [Microsoft] changing policy, but it sounding better than it is when the whole story is revealed," Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano told Engadget. "Make no mistake; while this is a great thing, it's again not the equivalent to what other platforms offer."
"On PS4, for example, developers can tap right into the system; use every bit of RAM and all of its power. Indies have access to everything that the AAA studios do, from platform support to development and release. The indication on Xbox One is that it's essentially XBLIG 2.0. Instead of XNA, it's Windows 8. Windows 8, which is already struggling to gain developer interest, will gain a boost from developers wishing to target the console. However, it won't be as full-fledged as published games on the system."
"It's important to me that consumers don't see things as black and white. There are still strings attached to this policy change."
We'll learn all the details at Gamescom. Again, this is great news, but a part of me still wonders what the next policy change will be. The Xbox One could end up as a humidifying mass spectrometer at this rate.