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Microsoft has reversed yet another policy in a long line of policies that seem to be getting the do-over treatment and the community has reacted strongly. Heck, if the console race was a gear box, Sony would be in drive, Nintendo would be making its way out of neutral and Microsoft would be in reverse.
Game Informer had a follow-up article to their big breaking news story yesterday about the Xbox One enabling indie devs to self-publish on the Xbox One and that every XB1 console can double down as a development kit with Microsoft confirming the console ID and opening up the software to allow users to use the system as a kit to design and test their games.
While the news was met, initially, with a lot of claps and cheers, things eventually settled down and gamers and developers alike began assessing the situation from a much more pragmatic point of view. Game Informer listed a few of the responses from game developers and gamers alike, with some very interesting responses from well-respected members of the community, such as Tommy Refenes from Team Meat, a group who has a had a very rocky (yet successful) relationship with Microsoft and the Xbox brand, saying...
If the SDK forces you to go through some abstraction layer like XNA to get to the hardware, that's also horrible and would be of no interest to me. Fingers crossed for a 70/30 split and a good SDK...otherwise I'll stick to everything else."
The 70/30 split is currently what Valve's take is for Steam games, and it seems to be about that pressure point for the revenue dividends.
Others, however, were more concerned about discoverability; it's an issue that a lot of mobile developers also face when putting their games on iTunes or Google Play. Jamie Cheng, the co-founder of Klei Entertainment (the makers of Don't Starve) shared his excitement and concern about the Xbox One's new policy change, saying...
"That is good news indeed! I suppose the real test is in discoverability of the games on the dashboard."
Cheng wasn't alone, as Edge Magazine also caught up with a few developers who also shared cautious optimism about the self-publishing option, with Rami Ismail from Vlambeer stating...
“Obviously good curation for featured titles is a must for the audiences of the device, but having a separate section of the store might be a disappointment,”
NimbleBit's David Marsh agreed with Vlambeer and Cheng about discoverability, noting that there shouldn't be a difference between bigger XBLA titles and smaller XBLA titles – no more back-alley billing in the XBLIG poor man's section.
I think Yann Seznec from Lucky Frame had the most astute response regarding the role-reversal on indie publishing for the Xbox One, saying...
“I like the idea of an Xbox one doubling as devkit, that seems like a really great thing. But ‘self publishing’ can mean a lot of things! What will be the approval process? How much will it cost? How will the storefront be designed? Will ‘self-published’ games be hidden in a million sub menus? Will there be a structure for marketing support? Will terrible games get rejected? If so, who decides what is terrible?”
I know who decides what is terrible... Steam Greenlight anyone?
Additionally, some figures in the game development community quipped about the Xbox One's policy reversals being so frequent that it was practically open source. Majority praised Microsoft for at least listening to community feedback.
Others, however, made the very strong observation that all the policy changes could be evidence that the heads at Microsoft lack strong leadership and a sound direction. I tend to agree.
So what do you think about all the policy changes over the recent months for the Xbox One?