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With Xbox One, Microsoft Policy on Indies Remain Unchanged: No Self-Publishing

In recent years, indie games have come to the mainstream thanks to platforms like Steam Greenlight, PlayStation Mobile, and Desura. Indie games have become so popular that Nintendo and Sony, in order to curry the favor of developers, have lowered the bar for entry on their respective platforms and even allow self-publishing.

Microsoft still retains a firm grip on indie developers. Those looking to seek publishing on the Xbox Live Arcade must have a third party publisher or seek publishing from the console giant itself. This practice isn't going to change even with the advent of the Xbox One. "As of right now, we intend to continue to court developers in the ways that we have," said Matt Booty, general manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms. "I would also expect that for this new generation, that we're going to continue to explore new business models and new ways of surfacing content. But Microsoft Studios is a publisher that works with a wide range of partners, as do a lot of other people, to bring digital content to the box."

However, on Xbox One, Xbox Live Arcade and Xbox Live Indie Games will no longer be separate sections. This would allow indie developers a much better chance to be discovered by gamers, since gamers aren't necessarily going to be browsing through the Xbox Live Indie Games section. “In the past we had retail games which came on disc, we had Xbox Live Arcade and we had Indie Games, and they had their own discrete channels or discrete silos,” said Microsoft VP Phil Harrison in regards to the change. “With Xbox One and the new marketplace, they’re games. We don’t make a distinction between whether a game is a 50-hour RPG epic or whether it is a puzzle game or whether it is something that fits halfway between the two.”

This change may prove a blessing and a curse to indie games. They'll now be given equal treatment to triple-A titles, but there's also a good chance that they may end up drowned in a sea of much bigger and much better publicized games.

In the past few years, indie games like Super Meat Boy, Braid, and Journey have been able to attain great success, and it's likely that the trend will continue. As of late, Sony's been pushing hard to accommodate and bring indie developers to its side. Microsoft, in retaining its policy of not allowing indie developers to self-publish, may be hurting itself in the long run in developing relationships with indies. But maybe that's not the direction that Microsoft envisions for itself. After all, it's got plenty to work with, with the big name TV deals that its worked out for the Xbox One.  

  • bustapr
    I hope theyre aware of all the money they are going to lose because of this decision. the indie game market is a rapidly growing market. and if they keep catering to publishers egos, then theyll innevitably push away the indie devs that dont like publishers business(which is most of them apparently). when that hurricane of ps4/wiiu exclusives come out, microsoft is going to not make alot of money.
    a "real" indie game has no publisher financing, hence the term "indie game". if indie devs invest so much time and money making a game, why should they have to go through one of microsofts buddies in order to sell the game AND lose potential profit. theyll just look over in the area of the PS4 and theyre self publishing model and decide its the easier, and profitable path.
  • randomizer
    Publishers, publishers, publishers, publishers, publishers, publishers... *take a breath*... publishers, publishers, publishers, publishers....
    This is starting to sound like Walmart vs Target.
  • alidan
    why do we care what a DOA console is doing?
  • GIJoeMyGoodness
    Is Microsoft trying to get everyone to stop using their stuff? First Windows 8, then Office 2013, and now this? I hope it's successful because I am a long time Xbox fan (over 10 years on Live). The problem is I feel like everything I loved about Microsoft keeps getting taking away as they add all this other stuff I don't want. What will be left to resort to? I'm certainly not siding with Apple or Sony.
  • excella1221
    Ugh, is it just me or I can't read comments unless I post one first?
  • SirGCal
    Another reason to not get the new 'Box... One thing I've loved on Steam lately are the Indie titles. Godness there are a lot of great products coming out and they are very nicely priced and darn good fun and DIFFERENT instead of the same old crap that (cough) EA (cough) puts out...
  • Pherule
    So all we need is for Sony to allow self publishing on the PS4, and in one swift move they completely wipe the floor with Microsoft.
  • Vorador2
    They're indie because they don't have a publisher. Catch 22.
    Sony sends a heartfelt thanks to Microsoft for sending all those indie developers towards them.
  • Spooderman
    What a surprising development! (not really)