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Indie developers cry out for self-publishing on Xbox One

"It feels like a lost opportunity," says Born Ready

According to a Shacknews report, Microsoft has no plans to abandon its policy of obliging game developers to partner with either a third party publisher or Microsoft Game Studios in order to release on Xbox Live. Indies aren't too happy about that, it seems.

"This has to be the biggest frustration for the development community: the inability to get our games ranged directly on Xbox," Born Ready's James Brooksby (among other contributors) told Eurogamer in a statement today.

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"Developers are able to do so much these days: reach consumers directly, use their input to try new things, respond quickly with updates and enhancements, run successful marketing campaigns - in short, they can be in charge of their own destiny," he said. "It's a shame that while other platforms are becoming more and more open - with new ones still appearing - the Xbox One is still tied to a policy from an earlier era."

"Given how vibrant the indie games scene is right now, it feels like a lost opportunity to prevent Xbox gamers having access to the wealth of innovative new gaming content that's out there. The independent scene has never been so alive and diverse simply because of the variety of open platforms that are available and the ease in which developers and communities can interact.

"For us the real question is: will indie games have a market at all on the Xbox One? We want this to be the case. We want to put our games on as many platforms as possible and reach gamers wherever they are. We can only hope that, in time, the current policies towards independent developers will be reviewed at Microsoft."

Similar sentiments were expressed to OXM by Just Add Water CEO Stewart Gilray in April. "I feel they have to open up to self-publishing, and not just carry on with retail-first - they have to get rid of that role because it's bonkers, frankly," he said. "Next generation, there are some great games coming out where the publishers and developers can't afford to do retail."

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Gilray has more to add in Eurogamer's piece - he thinks there's room for hope. "It was interesting to see Phil Harrison say, 'we're going to see how it evolves.' I think Phil is probably saying, 'we're going to have to look at this,' and is trying to get it through the hierarchy at Microsoft."

Microsoft's policy is designed to ensure a certain level of quality for Xbox Live releases, confining the selection to developers with proven track records. The Xbox Live Indie Games service allows devs to self-publish, but its future may be in jeopardy. Can Microsoft afford to continue its walled garden approach and hope to secure another generation of Braids, Super Meat Boys, Limbos and Bastions?

"I understand the reasons," said Gilray. "I don't agree with the reasons. They don't want to saturate the platform. But developers have to come from somewhere." For more about empowering the little guy, read our feature on the prophesied death of XBLIG.

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