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Indies seem to be warming up to Microsoft's ID@Xbox program

Indies seem to be warming up to Microsoft's ID@Xbox program

April 1, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

"Microsoft used to be assholes about [indie development], for sure...but they’ve become a lot friendlier, and that’s to do with Chris Charla and his team. He’s awesome. He’s a major proponent for smaller developers like us."
- Alex Preston, creator of Hyper Light Drifter, shares his thoughts on Microsoft's approach to indie developers in a recent interview with Edge.

In the wake of GDC 2014, Edge has published an excellent feature about how independent developers feel about the current state of Microsoft's ID@Xbox self-publishing program, especially the parity clause which prevents developers from launching their games on Xbox One if they have already been launched on other platforms.

The story features minor input from Xbox VP Phil Harrison alongside a bevy of opinions from independent developers who have experience working with Microsoft. The general thrust of the piece is simple -- the parity clause is still a real sticking point, but many developers believe Microsoft has made meaningful strides in becoming a more approachable business partner for indies.

“Every GDC you’d have a meeting with a Microsoft guy and say ‘One day this is going to have to change.’ I think it was a case of grinding them down every year," Born Ready Games CEO James Brooksby told Edge.

“The right kind of people are being put in place around this – it doesn’t feel like we have that kind of bureaucratic, corporate stuffy-suits people," he continued. "It feels like internally a lot of people [at Microsoft] have been campaigning for this."

Newly-anointed Xbox chief Phil Spencer spoke very carefully about the company's plans for the ID@Xbox program during a fireside chat with Gamasutra Editor-In-Chief Kris Graft at GDC 2014, suggesting that the policy was the subject of much discussion during the conference but that Microsoft had no immediate plans to change it.

"The platform parity is about making sure that when [people] buy an Xbox," players get "the best independent games" which are "state-of-the-art and new," said Spencer, who went on to acknowledge that some developers were having trouble working within the limitations of the parity clause.

Microsoft VP Phil Harrison's comments to Edge would seem to bear that out, suggesting that the company is still working out the kinks in the ID@Xbox program. "Chris Charla and his team are doing a great job listening as well as sharing, and continuing to refine and adapt our developer program so I’m really happy with the progress," he said.

The Edge feature story, featuring input from developers of Divekick, Guacamelee, Super Time Force and more, can -- and should -- be read in full on the Edge Online website.

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