Announced back in August 2013 during Gamescom, Microsoft's ID@Xbox program seems to have paid off as several independent developers have come forward praising the program as one of the easiest digital publishing platforms to work on.
The program was announced owing to dissatisfaction from indie developers who were unable to incorporate important Xbox features such as access to Xbox Live tools, the Kinect sensor, and support achievements during the Xbox 360 era. This latest development will surely make the Redmond company heave a sigh of relief. During a recent ID@Xbox preview event this week, developers praised the program as a "hugely important" one in the industry.
Recounting hardships in publishing games before such avenues as ID@Xbox, Sumo Digital’s designer and PR analyst David Dino said:
“I think it’s great. Just allowing people to have dev kits when they don’t necessarily have the funds to purchase something like that, you get a lot of crazy ideas that people are brewing that they don’t necessarily have the ability to do straight out unless they have a set amount of capital, so a program like ID@Xbox is amazing because it’s an amazing option for them.
ID@Xbox has been super helpful in getting the visibility of [Snake Pass] and making that publishing process a lot easier as well."
He added that it was pretty difficult for the developers to take the self-publishing route or look for publishers until a few years ago. The program has helped the studios build a rapport with the Redmond corporation which can be leveraged in future projects. What the program has done is more than allow independent games better visibility, if some developers are to be believed, it has worked as a catalyst between the platform and the developers.
Mad Fellows' technical director Dan Horbury explained:
“They were just there when you need them, so if you hit a problem, you can get in touch with them and they’ll sort it out, or guide you in the right direction. With Steam, we found it less personal. ”
Having worked with Microsoft on two occasions, Horbury recalled how account managers took out "their own time talking to us, to help us get it to the store". Even relatively bigger studios are witnessing the benefits to the program as Tequila Works’ Miguel Paniagua explained. Calling the program "a huge chance" for indie studios, the studio hailed the communication from the Xbox team:
"They’ve been very helpful and any time I had a problem I sent an email and I’ve had an answer in three minutes. It’s very quick communication. It’s our first time publishing a game and we were kind of lost at the beginning because we didn’t know that we had so many things to deal with.”
Tequila Works, which co-developed Cavalier Game Studios’ The Sexy Brutale which it is also publishing on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam, called "the submission process with Microsoft is the easiest one of all [platforms]". Cavalier itself applauded Xbox's approachability and the team's ability to listen to and address their queries as valuable. Calling the event "enormously valuable", the studio's founder and design director Charles Griffiths claimed:
“The opportunity to have the game played in a slightly more long-form way and in a good environment is great. It’s hugely important and valuable for us. ID@Xbox has been a great scheme and everyone involved with it has been really approachable, and Microsoft has also been very open to listening to our queries and finding any of the problems in the process and addressing them, so it’s been very good.”
More than 1,000 games are under development in the program with 22 more to be added as Xbox Play Anywhere titles. The company has even announced a newer Xbox Live Creators Program to complement ID@Xbox that brings additional support to UWP games owing to latter's success, presumably.
Microsoft may not be leading the market when it comes to platforms, but happy developers ensure a thriving platform or as former CEO Steve Ballmer would say: DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS!