What Will Xbox One Mean for Indies?
Game Informer magazine’s May issue (#242) featured an article about the exodus from the once burgeoning XBLA marketplace, and the various gut-wrenching missteps Redmond made in alienating its contributors and consumers – a platform that debuted such luminary titles as:
- Fez (now infamous for the bug fixes that would have set back indie developer Phil Fish some $10K due to Microsoft’s QA department),
- Skulls of the Shogun
- Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
- Retro City Rampage
- Shadow Complex
- Dust: An Elysian Trauma
- and (almost) Monaco, but for the expensive bug fixes that saw it debut on Steam first.
To add insult to injury, Microsoft also announced, Google-style, that they would cease further development of their XNA game development platform. As a result, coders/micro-developers fond and familiar with the managed .NET runtime environment have started adapting it to open source and platform agnostic Mono framework (currently known as MonoXNA).
With SONY putting a lot of time into their commitment to indies at their Playstation 4 reveal event, what will the new XBOX do to assuage the concerns and frustrations of indie game developers when it reveals its 8-years-in-the-making offering on May 21st 2013?
We will be live blogging all the news as it comes, with our own take on the announcements, with a focus on the concerns and opportunities for indie game developers.
Link to the US reveal page at the Xbox.com website on May 21st at 10am PMT.
Will Microsoft’s race to take on the new smart phablet world eclipse its support of indies, or do they have some brand new tricks up their sleeve?
One thing is for certain – ignoring the indie game market in these times, would be a huge error in judgment…
Visit our XBOX Live Indies sister site for reviews of micro-indies released through the XNA marketplace.
Liveblogging from the Xbox One reveal:
- Unlike SONY Playstation 4 – they actually showed the box. The new Xbox looks like a remote receiver from the 70’s. This doesn’t really bother us because it has to pack in a whole of hardware. The Disc player is no longer a pop-out tray, but rather an insertion slot like on PS3. It is also a Blu-ray player. The nicely matched design of the Kinect with the console is kinda of cool. But yes, still looks like something Bang and Olufsen might have shown in a showroom when my dad had sideburns and drove a Volare.
- Xbox One will function as a game DVR with sharing and editing capabilities
- Currently Xbox Live has 15,000 servers, this will increase to 300,000
- Lots of push on Smartglass
- The new Kinect will be INCLUDED with the new Xbox. In fact, it is integral to its use. It is vastly improved with powerful IR sensors, and 1080p HD 2D color sensor, a heart rate monitor (by observing tiny fluctuations in patches of your skin!) and much more. The takeaway is, you could basically use it in the dark with far better accuracy. Furthermore, the new Kinect alone trumps any offerings by Playstation or Nintendo in recent years. It is a scientific marvel and it should be exploited as was the first Kinect, by hackers and DIYers, a source of inspiration for the developers themselves. (Take the hint, Microsoft!)
- Heavy Cloud focus – all of your assets will be kept in the cloud including shared videos – integrated with Microsoft’s Azure Cloud service
- Asynchronous capability to search for game opponent matches while doing anything else on Xbox.
- Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios shows off the new Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One and it looks near photorealistic.
- Microsoft will bring 15 new exclusive games in its first year including 8 new franchises and including all Call of Duty DLCs.
- Nancy Tellem who worked at CBS with CSI and Survivor talks about the new Television viewing experience on Xbox and how it will feature highly accurate prediction and socialized, interactive programming via HDMI pass through – thus you can pipe your cable shows through the Xbox One which will in turn feature interactive overlays should you so choose. One of its first original programs will be a Halo Live Action series.
- Amazingly, Microsoft announces that the Xbox One will launch within 2013.
- InfinityWard reveals Call of Duty: Ghosts that features an all new engine including Dynamic Maps that may feature earthquakes etc, and AI that would make the environment alive – for example fish in water will feature swarm dynamics and swim out of the way when you move through their school.
Though a lot of folks just saw this:
Here is an excellent exclusive first look at the Xbox One granted to and written by WIRED magazine, with which we cannot wish to compete:
But after all of that – there was nary a mention of XBLA, or the Xbox Live Indie marketplace. Guess we will have to wait for part two. But clearly, Microsoft has a very different strategy than PSN, which could give SONY a huge boost in dominating the indie market (which in turn can steer innovation in game development, community building and so much more).
Update: May 22, 2013
Andrew Yoon at Shack News reports that Microsoft isn’t eager to reverse their position on indie games. Currently, developers are required to enter a publishing agreement before games can appear on Xbox Live. While the XBL Indie section does not have this restriction, the last few changes to the layout of Live (which some devs complain have made the indie sub-section more difficult to locate) have made this a less-than-desirable option for dev outfits who are serious about getting their projects to gamers.
While Microsoft claims they haven’t ruled out the option to review their business models, this news, coupled with the dearth of indie gaming-related information at the Xbox One reveal would seem to indicate that smaller creative teams are not an immediate consideration in this coming console generation.