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