If one thing has become clear as we’ve been working on ID@Xbox, our independent developer self-publishing program for Xbox One, it’s that today’s independent game developers are using middleware to help realize their visions more than ever. Of course, middleware isn’t cheap.
One of the cool things about working at Microsoft is that we have access to pretty amazing resources. For independent developers though, tools like Unity on console can cost quite a bit.
We talked internally at ID@Xbox about ways we could help developers for Xbox One. Many developers we talk to are using Unity today to get up and running quickly, and to be able to harness the power of hardware and realize their creative visions without spending tons of time on technology development. We thought about paying for some developers’ Unity licenses but the more we talked about it, the more we felt paying for some developers’ licenses and not others just didn’t feel right.
To us, ID@Xbox is about providing a level playing field for all developers. So, we worked with Unity and we’re pleased to announce that, when released in 2014, the Xbox One add-on for Unity will be available at no cost to all developers in the ID@Xbox program, as will special Xbox One-only Unity Pro seat licenses for Xbox One developers in the ID@Xbox program.
Will we devote marketing and promotion to promising looking titles in development? Of course. But we want to make sure the dev who’s working away in Omaha, or Coventry, or Chiba will have the same shot to realize their vision on Xbox One as one of my developer friends we hang out with in Seattle or at a trade show like GDC or Gamescom. Because at the end of the day, we want gamers to pick the hits. That’s what Xbox One is all about: One games store, the best discovery tools on console, and a powerful, equal playing field for all games, from developers big and small.
This announcement is cool for a bunch of reasons. The Unity add-on for Xbox One supports every element of Xbox One, from Kinect to SmartGlass to the impulse triggers of the new controller. Using Unity, developers will be able to take advantage of all aspects of Xbox One, which is rad. More importantly, Unity is available for Windows and Windows Phone too (and yes, the add-on is available at no cost to developers for Windows Phone and Windows 8 store games). So from one base game, developers can ship their games across all Microsoft platforms. For more details on Microsoft’s partnership with Unity, check out this Xbox Wire post from BUILD 2013.
As always, our goal at ID@Xbox and Microsoft remains the same: We want to lower friction for developers on Microsoft platforms to make sure gamers get access to the broadest and deepest library of amazing games on the planet. We’re also excited to work with other middleware and service providers to drive value for independent developers, and we hope to have even more announcements that directly benefit developers.
We asked Unity and a couple of our developer friends their thoughts on Unity being free to developers on Xbox One. Here’s what they had to say:
- David Helgason, CEO, Unity Technologies: “Microsoft continues to show their commitment to creating opportunity for developers of all shapes and sizes, a commitment shared by Unity. The drive behind the ID@Xbox program is exciting for Unity and the games development community in general. We can’t wait to see the results.”
- Dan Teasdale, No Goblin: “ID@Xbox has been great about lowering the bar to entry for smaller developers like No Goblin. Free Unity licenses are another big step towards making Xbox One a no-brainer for independent developers like us.”
- Dino Patti, Playdead: “It’s definitely great that Microsoft is lifting this cost off of developers. We love when things are hassle free.”
- Mike Mika, Other Ocean: “In the last generation, we spent a lot of time and resources trying to make games run across multiple platforms. It’s cool to see Microsoft take another step in making life easier for developers. We’re already developing using Unity on Windows 8 and so adding Xbox One to our Unity pipeline makes tons of sense.”
- Jamie Tucker, Asteroid Base: “As Unity developers, we are excited to hear about this. Anything that makes it easier for indies to get their games into the hands of players is an great thing.”