Microsoft has, in the past, had an on-off relationship with indie developers. On one hand, the platform has debuted such indie classics as Fez, Super Meat Boy, Castle Crashers and Braid on the Xbox Live Arcade. On the other hand, developers like Phil Fish, Team Meat and Jonathan Blow have all publicly claimed their displeasure with the company's approach to indie games. On top of that, Dean Hall, Blow and now-retired Fish also denounced the Xbox One when it was first revealed.
They were not alone in their worries either as fans, devs and critics expressed concern and displeasure towards the console's controversial policies regarding indie game publishing which eventually sent Microsoft on a spree of policy reversals to battle the negative buzz. Microsoft has taken another step forward in its efforts to get indie developers back on board with the Xbox One.
In an interview with Joystiq during this weekend's PAX event, Microsoft's Portfolio Director for Digital Games Chris Charla said that indie developers would have the option to set their own pricing structures to their games (free-to-play, micro-transactions, etc.). This happens in the wake of Microsoft recently reversing their stance on self-publishing and confirming that every retail console could potentially act as a development kit.
Despite the move, there were still questions surrounding ID@Xbox, the Xbox One's indie development program, specifically surrounding the level of influence that a developer would have over the pricing structure of their games. Charla alleviated those fears by confirming that indie games will have "every business model that any other game on Xbox One has" available to them.
Charla went on to say that this isn't just limited to to pricing structures either as games that go through ID@Xbox will get the same access to Xbox One features all other games get.
"They have full Gamerscore, full Achievements, can take advantage of SmartGlass, Kinect — if you can do it with an Xbox One game, you can do it with anything that comes through the ID@Xbox program. That's like a fundamental tenet of the program."
This move from Microsoft is one in a long line of positive decisions from the company in recent weeks, following the Xbox One's problematic initial reveal. This clarification from Microsoft shows that on top of trying to entice new and exciting projects through ID@Xbox, that they also respect developers enough to have a hand in the business of their games. It also means that pay models like free-to-play supported by micro-transactions can exist without them being forced on to games that weren't designed to support them. There is still more to be precisely outlined about the ID@Xbox program, but so far it looks like a great service for indie developers to publish their video games on. Here's hoping.
The Xbox One is confirmed for release in November for $499