How Self Publishing is Shaping up the 8th Generation

July 25, 2013


We’ve known that Sony has supported indie development for quite some time. But now, it seems that Nintendo and Microsoft, who at first had a strict policy that was turning indie devs away, has changed their minds and policies AGAIN in an effort to get more devs onboard with the Xbox One.

Mark Whitten, ho is Corporate VP with Xbox had a nice long interview with Shacknews. Its quite long and detailed, so instead of giving you the gist of it i’ll give you an excerpt

“our goal is that everybody can decide to stop playing and start creating.” And key to that strategy is that “the box you get at retail can be a dev kit, period.”

“Everyone will be able to self-publish content,” Whitten told us, adding “this is the fundamental shift that needs to happen.”

Part of why Microsoft originally required publishers for content on Xbox Live Arcade was the way Live was built on Xbox 360. Pointing to dev kits and the PartnerNet developer environment, publishing on Live Arcade was inherently “low-scale.” But those bottlenecks are gone with Microsoft’s next console. “It’s one of the foundational things we’re working with Xbox One,” he told us. “With Xbox One, all development is done against production network.”

“One of the things we missed with on 360 is because PartnerNet was so low-scale, even when we did things like XNA, they couldn’t take advantage of the services that we put inside of Live. Now that we’ve re-architected the system from the ground-up, we’ll be able to give developers a full suite of tools,” Whitten said. “What happens when you give to the indie world Kinect, cloud, and the things that come with cloud? You’ll see ridiculous, crazy things that will really drive about how people think about this platform.”

So, how will the process of turning a retail Xbox One into a dev kit work? Whitten explained: “when you register as a developer, it will create a relationship between our Live service and your box so that you can put code that runs inside that environment.” However, this feature won’t be available at launch, meaning indie devs will either have to wait for the program’s launch, or get a dev kit from Microsoft now.

While Microsoft’s plans are certainly ambitious, with everyone being able to self-publish games, there is a real threat that Xbox Live can become as cluttered as the app stores on iOS and Android today–especially because there won’t be any segregation between retail, downloadable, and indie games on the Marketplace. Whitten says that surfacing will be the big challenge for Microsoft. “I still believe strongly in curation, and that means how do we present users with the content that’s most relevant to them?”

“If you make a game with zombies in it, and it’s a big hit and people like it, it’s going to flow up,” Whitten said.

Now, Nintendo is a bit tricky, because while they are understandably allowing US devs self publishing rights in an effort to get more support for their fledgling console, they have in a bizarre twist of fate BARRED their own kind this right. CVG had this to report on the matter:

“The policy in question is the decision of Nintendo’s department responsible for licensing activities in each region, and the licensing department of Nintendo is currently not accepting subject applications from individuals in Japan.”

Nintendo traditionally works exclusively with established publishing entities, but it has recently observed a growing and thriving independent development sector across the west. Developers can now claim a free Unity Engine licence and self-publish their projects, according to recent comments from Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano:

All in all it looks like everyone is trying to be neck and neck with each other. First it was hardware, then DRM, and now indie loyalty.

On a side note its interesting how well Sony is doing this gen compared to the 7th gen, but that’s just my opinions, and now I welcome yours.

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