It’s fair to say that the relationship between Microsoft and indie developers has been a contentious one. The new console generation, spearheaded by the Xbox One and PS4, has brought with it more problems. Initially, Microsoft announced that indie developers would not be able to self-publish on the Xbox One, and that the tech giant would be closing down Xbox Live Arcade and Xbox Live Indie Games. The criticism raised over these plans led to backtracking over self-publishing – a reversal that led to a mixed reaction from developers.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the issues have not ended there. The company has faced previous criticism from indie big-hitters such as Jonathan Blow (the creator of Braid), Fez developer Phil Fish, and DayZ creator Dean Hall over the ease of bringing indie titles to the Xbox One. One issue that has been a cause of friction is Microsoft’s parity clause for the [email protected] Program – meaning that the Xbox One version of a game must release at the same time as any other platforms. The Fullbright Company’s Steve Gaynor even suggested that the clause may drive indie developers to the PS4.
Now, Xbox head Phil Spencer has spoken on the issue of the parity policy. Appearing on The Inner Circle podcast, Spencer talked about the controversial clause, and gave a reason for its inclusion. Spencer claimed that the clause is in place to make sure that Xbox One owners “feel like they’re first class.” Spencer spoke candidly about his worries regarding a staggered release schedule for titles:
“I look at all the people who buy an Xbox, and they invest their time and their money in Xbox One. I want them to feel like they’re first-class, because they are.”
The Xbox chief said that he wanted to Xbox to feel like “a first-class citizen when an indie game launches,” further reiterating the need for Xbox users to get content at the same time as owners of other consoles.
“If you own an Xbox One I want to work for you to make sure that when great content launches, if it’s coming to Xbox and another platform, that you kind of get it at the same time everybody else does.
“I don’t want somebody to come in and just think ‘I’m going to go do a special game on one platform and then I’ll get to Xbox whenever I get to it,’ because I don’t think it’s right. I think, as Xbox One customers, we want good games when they come out on both platforms.”
However, Spencer was also quick to note that the launch parity requirement is not black-and-white. If a developer simply doesn’t have the resources to develop for multiple devices at one time, workarounds can be found. Citing previous work with developers having problems working on limited timelines, Spencer said he was proud of the work Xbox had done.
What do you make of the parity clause? Do you feel as though Microsoft is right to make sure their users get the same release dates? Or could it damage the release of indie titles in general? Let us know in the comments.
Source: The Inner Circle