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Microsoft allows self-publishing on Xbox One; some devs remain skeptical

In another reversal, Microsoft has announced that developers will now be able to self-publish their games on Xbox One. Not only that, retail console units would also work as dev units, eliminating the need to purchase separate dev kits for game development.

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This reversal might please the disgruntled indie community which had heavily criticised Microsoft’s older policies, where it required developers to have an established third-party publisher behind them if they wanted to publish their games on the console.

Xbox corporate VP Marc Whitten stated, “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.”  He further added, “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.”

However, Whitten did say that retail units won’t serve as dev kits at launch. Whitten clarifies, “It’s how we architectured the [Xbox One], but it won’t all be there at launch.” This looks like another step in the right direction for Microsoft, who earlier reversed some of its highly controversial policies.

As expected, the announcement was received positively, but not all developers are convinced just yet. Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano told Engagdet that while the move was welcome, it doesn’t go as far as what the PS4 offers.

“On PS4, for example, developers can tap right into the system; use every bit of RAM and all of its power. Indies have access to everything that the triple-A studios do, from platform support to development and release. The indication on Xbox One is that it’s essentially XBLIG 2.0. Instead of XNA, it’s Windows 8. Windows 8, which is already struggling to gain developer interest, will gain a boost from developers wishing to target the console. However, it won’t be as full-fledged as published games on the system,” Provinciano said.

Meanwhile, Peter Bartholow from Skullgirls developer Lab Zero Games told Polygon, “I’d need to see the fine print before making any kind of final judgment. After all, these new policies were crafted by the same people that made the last set of awful policies”.

Microsoft has promised to go into further detail at Gamescom next month.

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