In a way, you've really got to hand it to Microsoft. It's not every day you see a company so willing to take what it said previously, turn it on its ear, and say something totally different later because it's clear the customers want it or don't want it or the like. Another of Microsoft's
standards appears to have fallen, meanwhile, and it's likely to be good news for the indie crowd.
The Xbox One, according to reports, will now allow the self-publishing model that's not only a huge part of Steam, but also recently announced for the PlayStation 4. What's more, the reports go on to indicate that the overall certification process for games to reach Microsoft's online stores is to be further streamlined, and—though this particular report is somewhat unconfirmed at last report—Xbox One systems will be able to work as developer kit units.
Basically, this means that indie developers will be able to act as their own publishers, where before, developers needed a partner to get in on the full range of Microsoft capability. Indeed, many thought Microsoft's approach a bit too constricting, with Oddworld's own Lorne Lanning saying “There's one party that's making it very clear they're not interested.”
Indeed, Microsoft looks to be opening up the floodgates, with reports suggesting that the new turnaround time to go from submission to approval should take no more than 14 days, as is the case with iTunes, and Microsoft's role in the certification process will look mainly for terms of service violations and major, game-breaking bugs as opposed to the current process of extensive code-checking.Independent game development
is getting to be more and more of a factor in gaming these days. With major titles like “Minecraft,” “Angry Birds,” “State of Decay
” and a host of others still exerting major presences in the market, it's clear that gamers are eager to get hands on good quality games, and said gamers are not terribly concerned about just where those games come from. With triple-A development under something of a pressure situation, putting more research, development and investment into titles and getting progressively less back, the time is increasingly right for the indie market to take advantage of the growth of digital distribution methods. Much in the same way that independent filmmaking has been on the rise of late with the huge growth of the direct to video market, making games or movies strictly for home theater consumption—without an eye on the stores—is proving to be a major possibility for many creators.
Microsoft taking a more hands-off approach to the indies is likely a smart idea, and one that may well have the potential to really ratchet up the total numbers of games out there, giving gamers a lot more in the way of choice than was had previously. Those titles will of course be all over the board in terms of quality, but possibilities still abound, and the news for gamers is likely, overall, quite good with this. Of course, the next question is how many gamers will stick with Microsoft in the face of all these surprisingly beneficial, but possibly too late to do much good, changes? That's a matter that only time will tell.