When Microsoft first announced the Xbox One in May, the company also revealed that all Xbox One games, including titles from small independent developers, must have a publishing agreement before they could be released on the console, either with Microsoft Studios itself or with a third party publisher.
This was a very different policy than what currently exists on the Xbox 360, which has its Xbox Live Indie Games section that lets small studios release their own games with no need for a formal publishing agreement. It's also different than Sony's plans for the PlayStation 4, which is also allowing small game developers to freely release their titles on the console. This move caused a number of major indie studios, including some who released their first console games on the Xbox 360, to defect to Sony and the PS4.
Now a new rumor claims that Microsoft is about to do another 180 on the Xbox One, this time on its publishing policies. Game Informer reports, via unnamed sources, that Microsoft will soon announce that developers will be able to release games for the console without a publishing agreement. Under this new setup, developers will be able to set their own pricing and release dates for their games and they will go through a relatively streamlined approval process, where Microsoft will just look for major bugs and service violations.
If true, this would be yet another example of Microsoft listening to their potential Xbox One fan base, as well as game developers, and changing their minds for the betterment of the console, just as they did when it came to the console's controversial DRM policies.
Game Informer's article also claims that Microsoft will allow Xbox One units to be turned basically into hardware dev kits, so that game developers can beta test their titles before they are officially released.
Source: Game Informer | Image via Microsoft