During GDC 2017, Microsoft announced the Xbox Live Creators Program, making it the company’s second big announcement at the event after it unveiled the Xbox Game Pass. The program allows “everyone” to use an Xbox One to develop and release a game for the platform, saying that Xbox Live Creators offers “fully open game publishing” and that developers will be able to “rapidly publish” games to Xbox One and Windows 10. Though, Microsoft does note that a “short and simple certification process” will be in order.
In a statement (via Polygon), the director of Microsoft’s [email protected] program, Chris Charla, said that “with the Creators Program, anyone can integrate Xbox Live sign-in, presence, and social features into their UWP games,” which include Xbox live leaderboards and party chat. As a UWP game, this would make the game available the upcoming Project Scorpio console, “hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs,” and those using the Xbox app on mobile platforms.
However, the Xbox Live Creators Program does come with some caveats, including the fact that developers will be unable to access the “max power” of the Xbox One and Project Scorpio, the latter of which Microsoft calls the most powerful games console ever. To do that, developers would have to get their hands on an Xbox One development kit either via [email protected] or a third-party publisher. Moreover, Creators’ games won’t have access to multiplayer matchmaking, Gamerscore, and Xbox Live achievements.
For gamers hearing about the program and fearing that the Xbox One may become a wasteland of shovelware, Microsoft has put some other barriers in place. Similar to the new Steam Direct program, taking part in the Xbox Live Creators Program comes with a fee (a one-time payment of $20-100) which should keep out those who don’t take the initiative somewhat seriously.
Additionally, the Xbox store will have its own, dedicated Creators section. Creators looking for maximum exposure may be a little disappointed at that, but for Xbox gamers who don’t want to be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of titles that could potentially come through the program, this is good news. Microsoft also says that it reserves the right to remove “harmful or inappropriate content” from the Creators section, though developers won’t have to sign concept approvals or non-disclosure agreements.
With the initiative still in Preview, it’s currently too soon to say how successful the Xbox Live Creators Program will be. But on the surface, it seems as though it will avoid the same pratfalls as that of Steam Greenlight. This could potentially get gamers playing a whole host of wonderful, unusual games that would not have featured on Xbox One previously and it will be interesting to see how things go.
Microsoft‘s Xbox Live Creators Program intends to allow “everyone” to use an Xbox One to develop and release a game for the platform.