The barriers to creators looking to get their games in front of console gamers used to be so high they were insurmountable. Aside from joining an established developer, your only option was to pay through the nose in licensing fees. Those barriers have been shrinking through the years, and on Xbox One they’re all but gone following an announcement from Microsoft’s ID@Xbox head Chris Charla at the 2017 Game Developers Conference.
The company unveiled the Xbox Live Creators Program, a new initiative intended to bring “fully open game publishing” to Xbox One.
In short, anyone can buy a console and start developing games for the Xbox One and PC. The program is open to anyone, and any retail Xbox One is enough to get started. There’s a one-time fee which Charla said ranges from $20 – $100.
Creators will be able to integrate things like leaderboards, party chat, Xbox Live sign-in, and other Xbox Live features into their games.
There’s always a catch. Of course there is. Games developed through the program will have to be published as Universal Windows Platform (UWP) games to appear on Xbox One. The games won’t have full access to the Xbox One’s powers nor to some core Xbox Live features. Among the missing features are matchmaking for multiplayer and Gamerscore. That last one actually makes sense. Without that restriction, you’d see a game titled “Press A to get Gamerscore” within a few days. For that, you’re still stuck looking up a copy of Avatar: The Last Airbender for Xbox 360.
To get full access to the Xbox One, you’ll need a hardware-based SDK, which is available through the ID@Xbox program that Microsoft will continue to run alongside the Xbox Live Creators Program.
The power of visibility:
The program is in preview, but Microsoft says it plans to open the program up very soon.