Getting a game certified for consoles can be a lengthy and expensive process, one that usually stops most independent games at the door unless they get a publisher to foot the bill.
However, Microsoft has opened its Xbox Live Creators Program to the public, allowing indie game makers to become their own publisher. At the same time, the program serves new, creator-driven games on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs to players.
Starting today, gamers can try out the first wave of self-published games in the newly added “Creators Collection” on Xbox One, or under the “Games” category on the Windows 10 Store.
Some titles available now include the Star Fox-esque space shooter Space Cat!, rhythm/action hybrid Stereo Aereo and Crystal Brawl, a 2v2 capture-the-flag game featuring terrain-twisting powers.
For those interested in putting their own game through the Creators Program, a retail Xbox One can replace a professional dev kit via a free Dev Mode Activation app. You will also need a Microsoft Developer account, which will cost you money, but could be as little as $20 / £12 / AU$21.
From there, a game uploaded to the Creators Program undergoes a simple certification process (the game has to follow Microsoft policy, after all), and as soon as that’s complete, your game’s as good as shipped.
While Creators Program titles can utilize social features, players’ Gamertags, leaderboard scoring and more, they won’t be eligible for achievements or use of online multiplayer. For that, they will have to go through Microsoft’s more stringent ID@XBOX program.
This isn’t the first time Xbox has held a hand out for indie devs. The Xbox 360’s program allowed for smaller games to be published cheaply with the help of peer review (and even had a few gems like and ), but it didn’t carry over to the next-gen Xbox One.
Though a major boon for devs wanting to avoid ceding creative control or running into bankruptcy when publishing their projects, a lack of quality control could tarnish the initiative.
This wouldn’t be unlike Steam’s , so consider our fingers crossed that more good than ill comes from Xbox‘s new open door policy.