Microsoft promised a long time ago that any Xbox One would be able to act as a development console, allowing anyone who wanted to to develop games for the system. They’re finally making good on that promise.
Microsoft announced today that the preview mode of the project is now available, letting anyone build and experiment with Universal Windows Program development. The preview is just that, a preview, and allows somewhat limited access. Only 448MB of the Xbox One’s 8GB of RAM is available, as opposed to the 1GB that will be available in the full version (these creations are intended to run on mobile devices as well, so the specs are more limited than a full development kit), and those hopping in now might “run into issues” according to ID@Xbox director Chris Charla.
While the activation is free, full access requires a Microsoft Dev Center account, which costs $19 – that’s still not a significant barrier, though.
Activating development mode is pretty easy to do, and it can be reversed, though not without effort. Activating it requires the following, according to Polygon:
- Download the Dev Mode app on your Xbox One via the Xbox Games Store
- Run Windows 10 on your PC
- Have a wired connection for your PC and Xbox
- Run the latest Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2015 builds
- Have 30GB free on the Xbox itself
- Join the Windows Insider Program
To roll back, you’ll have to reset your console to factory defaults. Running retail games may occasionally cause difficulty on the console, so this isn’t something you’ll want to enable just for the fun of it.
In addition to games, apps can be developed, and these will be universal apps meaning they should work on Windows 10 PCs and phones. The sky’s the limit for this, and we could see all kinds of wild stuff if development catches on. Any game or app will have to go through approval, though, which ensures that “games hit technical quality standards and are appropriate for Xbox One.” Charla told Polygon that they’re not looking to censor content, though. The game can still be sold on the Windows store even if it doesn’t get approved for Xbox One.
There’s nearly limitless possibility here. Microsoft has to foster it, though, making sure to advertise the ability to developers and show off the things people create, otherwise it’ll end up languishing the way similar (albeit more limited) efforts did on Xbox 360.
Thanks to GamesBeat‘s Jeff Grubb for recording the above video.