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Xbox One Indie Games Are Go! Microsoft Announce Extensive Developer Line-Up

Microsoft reveals a long list of developers working with them to produce indie games. But is this enough to catch-up with Sony?

A while ago, we pondered the sincerity of Xbox One's dedication to indie games and if they'd be able to claim a significant share of the market given Sony's head-start, as there was a grand total of 0 indie games at launch. 

However, Microsoft now look like they're putting their money where their mouth is by announcing a long and non-exhaustive list of developers that they already have on board to work with them.

On The List

The list so far includes no less than 32 developers who are confirmed as on-board Microsoft's indie initiative, ID@Xbox. Some of these include some well know indie developers, such as; Double Fine, the studio behind the cult titles Psychonauts and Brütal Legend; Drinkbox, makers of smashing Guacamelee; Halfbrick, the studio behind slash-tastic mobile game Fruit Ninja; and Definition 6, who have been causing excitement with their title Spy Party.

But it does looks like Microsoft are being a tad liberal with their definition of "indie" by including Crytek, makers of Far Cry, Crysis, and Xbox One launch-day title Ryse: Son of Rome. Their presence, however, is because they're going to be "self-publishing". But it's not like they're as strapped for resources as other developers, so can they really be classed as "indie"?

There's also some talk about Crytek picking up some smaller developers and getting them on board with them. But as ID@Xbox has always been pushed as a scheme to get indie games directly onto Xbox One without a publisher's help, such a position seems that of a needless third party. Not that we're chiding Crytek, it just does seem a bit odd that their stance within this indie scheme is one that's being touted at this stage.

Double Fine, too, is a studio that, depending on your point of view, is less indie than most and will forever be a moot point on what defines an independent studio.

But for the most part, the majority of the list is definitely indie, and it's really great that Microsoft are finally putting the wheels in motion for what was a big part of their pre-launch rhetoric.

Smoke, But No Fire

The list of 32 studios is part of a larger 50 developers that Microsoft have already approved to give dev kits to: two Xbox One kits, and a free Unity Pro licence. But despite the length of this list, there's very few titles that have been actually been announced. Although all studios say they're "working" on something, there's few firm confirmation of actual games.

Indeed, some of the developers themselves are being very couched about what they're working on and their future with Xbox One. On Eurogamer, Chris McQuinn of Drinkbox is quoted as saying,

"Can't quite say a whole lot at the moment, mainly because we're not too sure ourselves. But, I can confirm that we are working on a Xbox One title. As for working with Microsoft, well, it's still really really early, so get back to me in a few months on that question."

This is very different tone compared of the quote the studio is attached to in the official Xbox One press release, where Graham Smith is quoted as saying,

"Our experience with the ID@Xbox program has been great so far. As an independent developer, we're very excited to have an opportunity to self-publish on the Xbox One!" 

Zen Studios have also been unable to announce any title, even though they've recently pushed out news about their upcoming Zen Pinball 2 on the PlayStation 4. It looks like developing for the Xbox One isn't exactly their first priority, raining a little on Microsoft's parade.

Non-Exclusive

Microsoft have also announced today that they're withdrawing exclusivity clauses for indie developers getting on board. This is a great for indie devs as it mean they no longer have to worry about dedicating themselves to one console for any period of time. This could also make more indie devs come forward to apply for the developer kits. Yet this does smack a little of desperation in trying to get more studios on Microsoft's side.

Watch This Space

Taking into account all of the above, we're still not convinced about Microsoft's potential to eventually compete at the same level as Sony. But at least they now appear to actually be doing something which could still turn the tide yet.

Published Dec. 4th 2013
  • Ryan Kerns
    Featured Columnist
    Glad they dropped the exclusivity clause... that just doesn't bode well for small indie games. Maybe Ouya will learn a thing or two from this.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Oh! Great read man. :)
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Playstation won me over w their indie support. Microsoft has not at all been impressive with their stance on anything.

    For some reason it upsets me they feel the need (post launch) to tote, what seems pretty self evident, that those studios will be making games for a platform. Yes it wreaks of desperation.
  • Destrolyn.Bechgeddig
    Featured Columnist
    I do kinda feel that way. Although, Microsoft's desperation is a big plus for devs as they can now get their games out on both platforms with more ease.

    It's not surprise that Microsoft have had to drop their exclusivity clause. Sony have cold hard evidence of its dedication to indie devs, and that's where they've been going. Why risk exclusivity on Xbox One, where indie games had yet to appear, when Sony had already broken ground.

    I still stand by my earlier article in that indie games have never been a big pull for Xbox anyway, so it might not really matter. But Microsoft are making a huge song and dance about it.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    I find their PR or whomever has just dropped the ball since E3.

    If "games, are games, are games" then why shout about these indie devs. I didn't see Bungie on their, so why Crytec, was Ubisoft included? It feels this just a cheap, make an article about "this" kinda announcement. And with no games to show... just wait til you have something. It might make more of an impact.

    All in all, you're right, this only means good things for the indie devs. And for that glad.

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