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Xbox One self-publishing - six questions Microsoft needs to answer at Gamescom

Thoughts from leading independents on the manufacturer's policy shift

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5. How much will publishing a game cost?
Game Informer claims that Xbox Live revenues are split 50-50 between developers and publishers. This may not be good enough for some developers. "I think releasing on Xbox One without a publisher is a big step forward, of course, but the fact that (eventually) I'll be able to use my retail console as our dev kit is huge," Minicore Studios founder and CEO John Warren observed to The Guardian.

"My secondary (maybe flailing and futile) hope is that the fees for publishing won't be insane. It's one thing to only have to shell out $600 for a dev kit, but quite another if we have to spend another $10k on publishing fees. My hope is they'll be content with 30 percent of revenue and be done with it."

6. Is this a long-term commitment, or a response to the backlash?
Perhaps the most pressing question of all is how much of Microsoft's Xbox One publishing policy is down to a recent upsurge of dislike for the existing system, prompted by Sony's announcing that self-publishing is possible on PS4 (Sony, it's worth noting, has also failed to share real details of how this will work). Does the manufacturer really understand the importance of independent development, as Lionhead's Gary Carr has suggested? Or is this a tactical repositioning?

"It's worth being skeptical on this point," Andy Schatz of Pocketwatch Games told us. "If Microsoft really believed in the idea of self-publishing, my guess is that they would have moved that direction with the 360. This is core to the philosophical concept of a marketplace and these sorts of shifts don't happen overnight. If they are only done for pragmatic reasons, it's likely only to be a half solution.

"Until I hear more I'll remain cautious. I'm waiting to hear whether this really is a fundamental shift in how they see their marketplace, or whether it's a pittance to quell discontent. I'm hoping that they really are opening up their platform. Open platforms are good for the industry, for developers, and for gamers."

Dan Marshall adds that "the trouble is that Microsoft is a monolith, and I'm not massively convinced the people in charge have really 'got' the indie scene yet, or why people love it and why it's so important. When they do, and barriers start dropping, this is an amazing move." Roll on Gamescom, where Microsoft will hopefully lay all these doubts to rest.

In the meantime, can we interest you in 14 brilliant Xbox Live Indie games for less than £20?

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