Microsoft Readying Announcement Regarding Indie Self-Publishing, New Certification Process

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UPDATE: Microsoft executive Marc Whitten has clarified the new Indie publishing policy on the Xbox One with this statement to IGN,

“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.”

ORIGINAL STORY: A report from GameInformer suggests Microsoft is readying the announcement regarding Indie self publishing on the platform. The XBLA has seen some of the best exclusives over the years, four of which I count as some of my very best experiences on the Xbox 360. Microsoft opening the flood gates to independent publishers is only going to benefit, well, everyone. Sony was quick to capitalize on the success of Indies with a dedicated channel on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita‘s PS Store.

Microsoft seems to be learning from early mistakes, markedly quicker than Sony. It took Sony several years after the PlayStation 3 launch to begin it’s overhaul to create a gamer friendly plan for the PlayStation 4. Microsoft is reversing it’s many non-gamer-friendly policies in the blink of an eye. To be fair, this whole needing a publishing partner to get your content on the XBLA deal has gone on long enough, but the changes to DRM and internet connectivity on the Xbox One happened less than 3 months after the initial backlash caused by the Xbox One reveal, so kudos on that one.

Another reported change would make marketing and release date selection much easier for Indies hoping to publish on the XBLA. The lengthy certification process was recently echoed by Undead Labs during their game, State of Decay’s Microsoft TCR period. The changes would bring about a targeted 14 day turnaround for approvals. The revised TCR would be looking for violations to the XBLA terms of service and significant bugs only, instead of the extensive code checking process that exists today.

The final bit here is also a great bit of alleged news. GI has been told that every Xbox One unit can be converted into a debug console for development, similar to Android phones. Instead of specific units supplied by Microsoft for beta testing, a console ID can be authorized for pre-release code play. The process is reportedly going to support 25,000 units at launch.

These sweeping reforms, along with other recent changes make us ever the more excited for the Xbox One release. The PR crapstorm that plagued the console early on may be starting to clear up. However, changes to the way the Xbox brand will function from here on out still have us worried. Only time will tell, but Microsoft is making positive changes to regain some of it’s disillusioned fans and to provide naysayers with a bit of hesitation moving forward.

Be sure to check out my latest editorial highlighting the many ways self-publishing is benefiting the games industry.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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