One of the big launch titles for the PlayStation 4 is Digital Extremes' Warframe, a cybernetic space-ninja game that is uncontrollably addictive despite it's grindy nature. The title could have also been an Xbox One launch title, but Microsoft's policies regarding self-publishing from independent developers has made this somewhat impossible.
OXM managed to get a statement from Digital Extremes' vice-president of publishing Meridith Braun, who stated that...
"We would love to see Warframe on Xbox One, the ball is in Microsoft's court with regards to allowing titles on their system that come from an independent developer and not an established publisher,"
The “Microsoft won't let us self-publish” mantra has become a repeated phrase in an echo chamber throughout the gaming media circles. Unlike the last gen, many of the big movers and shakers this time around are independent developers – many of the original and creative games on the horizon are from independent developers.
Blockading indie devs from self-publishing (unless they sign an exclusivity deal with Microsoft or have a publisher pick up the distribution rights) automatically limits what sort of games will be appearing on the Xbox One.
Now, one of the common rebuttals against indie self-publishing is that a lot of indie games are “trash” and not of a very high quality. However, when you look at a game like Warframe, where the graphics (especially with a PhysX enabled card) looks better than anything currently on the Xbox 360 or PS3 when they're ratcheted up to the highest settings, at what point do we finally start saying that we need to take these guys and gals a lot more seriously in the industry?
Many times the biggest factor between indie and AAA was graphical quality, but we're starting to see games from lesser known studios take visual and graphical risks that blur the lines between that distinction, and Warframe is obviously one of those games.
Now, according to OXM and a few other Microsoft-sided sources, there are some things in the works to help the curating process so that indie devs may not have to jump through hoops to get their games on to an Xbox console. Microsoft at least did make some steps with waiving patching fees for indie devs, so it's not like we can completely rule out a change of heart regarding self-publishing as well.
Over in the Sony camp things are the complete opposite of Microsoft regarding indie devs, development tools and policies. First up, none of the devs had a problem getting their hands on PS4 dev kits, opposite of the Xbox One. In addition to this, Sony has enabled Digital Extremes to even make use of the PS4's cross-platform functionality, so that PC and PS4 gamers will be able to play Warframe with each other. That should be very interesting.
Last but not least, Sony allows indie devs to self-publish and bypass a lot of the hard-edged certification processes.
For Sony, this all means that we'll be seeing a lot more high-quality and creative indie titles on the PS4 compared to the Xbox One. Heck, Sony's E3 demonstration kind of pointed to the direction they're heading in, while Microsoft's E3 conference gave us a clear indication of what kind of guns they'll be packing.