Microsoft is opening its Xbox Live platform and enticing independent developers. At the Game Developers Conference (GDC 2017) today, the company debuted the Xbox Live Creators Program. However, while the platform is open to most developers, there are certain caveats.
The Xbox Live Creators Program is a publishing platform that allows dev's to publish their titles. Reflecting Microsoft's universal Windows ideal, developers can publish to both the Xbox One and Windows 10.
In the announcement, Microsoft said there is “no concept approval required!” to publish on the system.
Like Microsoft's other expressions of openness in recent years, there are some requirements. For example, users must have a Microsoft account and be enrolled on the Microsoft Dev Center. Creators must also become members of the Xbox Live Creators Program.
There are no software requirements. Developers can use their usual dev tools and an Xbox One to publish games to the Windows Store. Microsoft explains the program and how it works on the new Xbox Live Creators Program website:
“Integrate Xbox Live social experiences such as sign-in, presence, leaderboards, and more into your title, with minimal development time. Xbox Live social features are designed to organically grow your audience, spreading awareness to over 55 million active gamers. The full set of Xbox Live capabilities is available via the ID@Xbox program and a table comparing the features is below.
Using tools you already use, and your existing Xbox One retail console, you can easily create or leverage existing code to develop your title. Supported game engines include Construct 2, MonoGame, Unity, and Xenko. We anticipate more game engines and tools to support Xbox Live Creators Program over time. Please check with your preferred game engine for their support of the Creators Program.”
Xbox Live Creators Program Drawbacks
While the Creators Program is certainly a welcome addition to the Xbox platform, it has some issues. For example, there is apparently an application fee to enter the program. There is also a limited amount of space as it is only in preview at the moment.
Interestingly, developers cannot include game achievements or multiplayer elements. That is bizarre and certainly limits the appeal of developed titles.