Indie Dev Locked Out Of ID@Xbox For Opting Out Of Exclusivity In The Past
Witch Beam didn’t want to limit platform availability, and in turn, limited platform availability
If you’ve heard about Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program, you know it’s one of the best ways for indie developers to gain exposure for their hard work. The program represents a paramount shift in momentum for console gaming. That’s not to say the program isn’t without its red tape.
One dev I spoke to was actually penalized by the ID@Xbox submission requirements. See there’s a clause within the program that is designed to ensure indie launch parity between Xbox One and its competitors. Indie developer Vlambeer saw this requirement and saw fit to sign a month exclusivity with the PS4 platform. By doing so he was able to circumvent the launch parity clause. There’s a loophole in the program that allows devs who’d signed exclusivity deals prior to joining ID@Xbox to publish to Xbox One without having to adhere to the equality piece.
But what happens when you have every intention of releasing your title on as many platforms as possible? Independent developer Witch Beam didn’t want to alienate any part of their prospective audience by signing an exclusivity deal, and now their beautiful and seamlessly performing twin-stick shooter, Assault Android Cactus won’t be coming to the Xbox One as a result. See they’d already begun work on the PC, PS4 and Wii U versions of the game prior to the ID@Xbox program being greenlit. Sanatana Mishra of Witch Beam thought being exclusive elsewhere would likely hurt their chances of releasing on Xbox One.
We haven’t signed up to the ID@XBox program, unfortunately we started work on our PS4, Vita, and Wii U versions of Assault Android Cactus before the program was announced and have no intentions of delaying those versions to meet their launch parity clause. In a somewhat ironic twist it seems having a temporary exclusive agreement with another platform from before the ID announcement actually helps your chances of getting a waiver for the clause, but we opted out of exclusivity to keep our options open and are now locked out of the program.
So in trying ensure that all audiences would have the chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor, Witch Beam sealed their own fate. It’s unfortunate that the studio won’t be able to self-publish their work to Xbox One because of unforeseen red tape. The indie craving audience on Xbox One would very much enjoy Witch Beam’s insanity ridden shooter. Through it all, Sanatana was quick to praise Chris Charla, director of ID@Xbox, saying,
Chris (the head of ID program) has actually been quite approachable and responded to me on twitter, followed me back, and offered his personal contact details if we want to discuss our plans down the line, almost seemed like I was dealing with a different company.
So maybe, just maybe there’s still hope for Assault Android Cactus on the Xbox One. Finally, I was given a tentative release time frame for Assault Android Cactus on PC, PS4, PS Vita and Wii U. Mishra reckons we’ll be seeing the cross-platform release sometime in the Spring of 2014.
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