Microsoft’s New Indie Strategy: What I Expect It To Be

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According to Gary Carr, Lionhead Studios’ Creative Director, Microsoft if going to reveal new policies toward publishing on Xbox One for indie devs “very soon.” I have every expectation that MS will pull another “180” and implement self-publishing. Here’s why: money, and the fact that they could really use some goodwill right now.

Now if there is one thing I constantly knock MS for is that they are always late to the party. Just take a peak at their attempts to ape Apple’s products and the now infamous “Xbox 180,” where they effectively reversed all of their DRM policies to the point where they mimic those of the PS4. The approach MS had been taking wasn’t working while the approach of their competitors is. So let’s take a look at what their competitors are going right now in regards to indie games: self-publishing.

Recently, Oddworld Inhabitants head Lorne Lanning slammed MS for not being interested in indies – and this is coming from a man who helped MS launch their first console. He has a very strong point in his statements and the amount of people that were once stars of Xbox Live who have turned on MS is more than note-worthy.

Now, Apple has had self-publishing for years, it’s an almost effortless money-maker. It’s not difficult at all to become an app dev. You only need about $150 for the dev kit and the know-how to make an app. They take a chunk of the sales and just rake in the money. They just hit 50 billion app downloads, you do the math. Companies like Valve do this and not only get to see some great games get released but they get make money off them. A practice I’m amazed hasn’t come to consoles until the upcoming generation.

MS may have won people over with the reversal of their DRM policies but there are still countless people who cry “too little, too late.” MS needs more to happen to win people over. It’s also fairly clear if you look at the current state of the gaming press, good news continues to be released for the PS4. The same, however, cannot be said for the Xbox which is marred by either a lack of news or bad news.

I’m convinced they will implement their own self-publishing service. For one thing, they are trying very hard to be competitive with all of the bad publicity for them lately and secondly, it’s simply in their nature to do so considering it’s potential and how positively received it’s been pre-release. I’d like to see them try to take self-publishing and do something new with it but if history is any indication, when they do such a thing it’s not all that great (see, the Windows Phone). My real hope is that if MS implements self-publishing they won’t just put it there and let it day like they did with the bastardized 360 incarnation of this practice.  Microsoft could really use some good news right now, while we may groan at the gaming press obsessing over where the consoles are on Amazon’s top sales list, I’m sure the higher ups at MS are worried. They are in the midst of a “restructuring” after all. Even if they don’t implement some sort of self-publishing for indies, they will do something that will be indie friendly. They have no reason not to.

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Author: John Frazier View all posts by
I write about music and games and whatever else strikes my fancy. Formally lived in Hong Kong, now back in Pittsburgh. I also co-host a YouTube gaming channel called Couch Crabs http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWqMY9YyxGtxLcfDYnkLRLQ

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