Microsoft, whose success is owed in large part to strong developer support, took a backseat to Sony at last year's E3 in the eyes of independent game developers. During the PlayStation 4 unveiling, Sony won over video game enthusiasts and industry watchers with its indie-friendly, self-publishing policies for the new console. Microsoft's stance on indie games for the Xbox One: stay tuned.
Fast forward several months and a successful next-gen console launch for both companies, Microsoft is now touting big progress in getting more developers onboard.
In a Feb. 27 blog post, Chris Charla, director of ID@Xbox, Microsoft's independent developer program for Xbox One, provided an updated list of developers that have joined ID@Xbox. "It's incredibly humbling to see so many fantastic studios there supporting Xbox One, from XBLIG and XBLA alumni like Ska Studios and Humble Hearts, to new studios like Glass Bottom Games and Heart Machine, and veterans including Robomodo, Zoë Mode and Playdead," he wrote.
ID@Xbox is free to join and provides no-cost development kits to enable game developers that lack the resources of big-name studios—or simply wish to chart their own course—to self-publish games on Xbox One. Members can leverage the entire platform, including Kinect, SmartGlass and Xbox Live, and indie games share the same virtual shelf space as AAA titles on the Xbox One Store.
Microsoft announced Nov. 5 that it was making licenses of the popular Unity middleware free to ID@Xbox developers. Charla wrote, "When released in 2014, the Xbox One add-on for Unity will be available at no cost to all developers in the ID@Xbox program, as will special Xbox One-only Unity Pro seat licenses for Xbox One developers in the ID@Xbox program."
On Dec. 4, Charla reported that Microsoft had shipped more than 50 development kits under the ID@Xbox program. "Interest in ID@Xbox has been global—from Japan to Finland, developers in more than 50 countries are excited to get their games on Xbox One," he wrote.
Today, ID@Xbox's developer roster includes 65 new names. Charla explained that the list is not exhaustive and "more than 200 developers are already creating games using dev kits provided by ID@Xbox right now." He also revealed that the "first ID@Xbox games are in certification now," indicating that Xbox One owners may get the first batch of independent titles soon.
The Xbox One launched Nov. 22 to strong demand. During its first 24 hours on store shelves, Microsoft managed to sell 1 million Xbox Ones to consumers, a record for the software giant's games division.
In a Jan. 23 investor's conference call, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood revealed that the Xbox One "launched in 13 markets and sold in 3.9 million units in just over 5 weeks." At last count, Sony's PlayStation 4 has sold more than 5 million units since its Nov. 15 launch.