Self-Publishing Indies a No Go on Xbox One

Will Microsoft rethink their position and allow independent developers to self-publish?

In contrast to Sony’s promise of self-published content for independent developers, Microsoft has confirmed that indies will still need a publisher to get onto Xbox Live. Matt Booty, Microsoft’s general manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms, is quoted as saying “We intend to continue to court developers in the ways that we have.”

User submitted indies do have a home on Xbox now, with Xbox Live Indie Games, and as far as has been reported, it seems that this will continue. But Xbox Live Indie Games is not seen as a viable market compared to Steam, for example. Microsoft has also been critiqued for not bringing awareness to its Indie gaming section. 

Self-publishing as an indie on Microsoft currently is extremely difficult without a publisher. Eufloria developer Rudolf Kremers discussed in an interview back in 2011 why they chose not to publish on Xbox:

“We had to look at other ways, and that turned in to a self publishing route. We made that possible because Sony were happy to include us in their pub fund. One of the qualities of the pub fund is that it’s a viable avenue for micro teams like ourselves. Microsoft doesn’t have that anymore. They have XBLIG, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish when it comes to revenue.  All 3 console manufacturers approached us, but Sony had the right balance between us keeping our creative freedom, IP owenership, whilst it still being affordable to bring it out on a console. For multiple reasons, both Microsoft and Nintendo had too many hoops to jump through.”

Anyone familiar with the Team Meat saga already knows that Microsoft has a reputation for being slightly less than friendly with the independent market, but developers were hoping this would change with the announcement of a new system.  If independents have to sign over their IP to a publisher to work with Microsoft, then they lose some of the creative control that is necessary to the indie spirit.

Hopefully in the time between now and the Xbox One launch, Microsoft will look towards PS4—which has so far had a very positive association with independent developers and has stated that indies will have the ability to self-publish—and reconsider their stance.

Published May. 22nd 2013

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