When Microsoft shifted gears from its initially disconnected tone regarding the Xbox One this summer and started speaking in a more relatable voice, one of the major sticking points it fixed was its unfriendly stance on indie developers.
Developer Vlambeer (of Ridiculous Fishing fame), generally in favor of the push, has pointed out one major problem with Microsoft’s stance in a conversation with VG247.
As part of Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program, every Xbox One can be used as a development kit, but there’s a parity clause in the program’s contract. Apparently, if you’re going to launch your game on other platforms, you have to launch the Xbox One version at the same time as the others.
As Vlambeer says, this is highly restrictive to independent developers. Most don’t have the money (let alone experience or time) to do a multi-platform release. Getting a finished, polished game out on one platform at all can be trying enough for a first-time developer.
Interestingly, there’s a loophole: If you already have an exclusivity deal in place, the parity clause doesn’t apply. Vlambeer made sure to talk to Sony first for its upcoming Nuclear Throne, pictured above.
With that said, the developer is generally a fan of the program. Chris Charla, Director of ID@Xbox (as well as Editor-in-Chief of the awesome old Next Generation Magazine and a co-founder of IGN), “is a good guy, he sincerely cares about indie games,” Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail told VG247. “Chris’ heart is in a good place… the program is good. We are in ID@Xbox, and it’s a good program.” Ismail said that the parity clause is really the only surprise.
It’s great to hear from a developer’s point of view about the ID@Xbox program. The parity clause is trouble, and I suspect the loophole will mostly just send developers back to Sony’s doorstep unless Microsoft gets it out of the way as soon as possible. It doesn’t seem like a sensible thing to expect of independent developers, and it seems almost more like boilerplate text from the company’s dealings with mega-publishers like EA and Activision. I hope Microsoft will move on this soon and make the ID@Xbox program as welcoming as it has the potential to be.