For Microsoft, last week's Games Developers Conference in San Francisco served as more than DirectX 12's debut. The company also used the event to show off how much progress the software giant has made in attracting independent developers to the Xbox One.
In an online video, the company showcased some of the 25 games headed to Microsoft's newest gaming console as part of the ID@Xbox program, which allows developers to program and self-publish games for the device. Chris Charla, director of ID@Xbox, said, "We have more than 250 developers who we've sent dev kits to."
"We started this program by going on a huge listening tour, talking to more than 50 different developers about what they wanted in an independent publishing program," Charla said. He added that his team continues to engage the community and work "on making sure that we're making the right changes to the program, and just trying to make it so that we lower friction for them, so that they can ship great games that players can experience on Xbox One."
His team's aim "is to make the process as easy as possible so developers can focus on what matters most: creating the games you're beginning to see today," he said in a statement.
Microsoft's most recent efforts to entice independent developers are a big departure from previous approaches.
Last year, during the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles, Sony walked away with accolades from the independent game developer community, thanks in large part to the Japanese electronics giant's support of self-publishing for the PlayStation 4. Microsoft, in contrast, found itself scrambling to come up with a better system than the restrictive policies that governed publishing on the Xbox platform via Live Arcade.
After hinting at an app store approach for the Xbox One, the company finally delivered with ID@Xbox. The free-to-join program offers online resources, including no-cost development kits, for developers who wish to sell their games on the Xbox One Store. The new system seems to be resonating with the game development community.
One supporter is Capybara Games, maker of "Super Time Force", the XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) Award winner at the 2012 Independent Games Festival. The company demoed a near-final version of the 2D, time-twisting platformer at GDC, hinting that it may arrive soon for the Xbox One and its predecessor, the Xbox 360. Also on the horizon are "Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut," an Xbox One shooter from Born Ready Games, and the stylized and critically acclaimed "Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition" by DrinkBox Studios.
Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, said in a statement that the company's goal "has always been to make Xbox One the best place to play games, and that means having a diverse portfolio for gamers to choose from. Claiming to have "worked closely with independent developers to bring their own brand of creativity and innovation to the platform," he predicted that this early showing was "just the beginning."