When we started the ID@Xbox program (almost nine years ago!), we really didn’t know much. We knew that independent developers were driving the pace of video game innovation faster than we’d ever seen, and we knew the work they were doing was incredibly progressive and important. We also knew that our players on Xbox loved the artistry and diversity delivered by these developers, and that to make sure our players got the best, most diverse array of games possible, we had to do everything we could to help developers maximize their success on the Xbox ecosystem.
So, we did a lot of listening – directly learning from developers what they wanted, and what they needed. They were never shy about telling us what worked, and what didn’t. Innovations like cross-play across other consoles, for example, came directly from ID@Xbox partners. Stemming from their feedback and requests, we made a lot of changes to our back-end publishing systems and even our app framework. These changes may seem mundane but are really important as we seek to enable independent developers to ship their game easily across Xbox and PC.
The results have exceeded our wildest dreams. Since the program’s inception, independent developers have earned more than $2.5 billion in royalties and total revenue generated by ID@Xbox partners on Xbox almost doubled over the last three years. These are staggering numbers, and it speaks to the power of independent developers.
We’ve also paid developers and publishers across Xbox hundreds of millions of dollars in Game Pass license fees. There are amazing games out today on Xbox (and other platforms!) that would never have existed without the support of Game Pass members, and that’s really been an incredible phenomenon. Ensuring that millions of Game Pass members get to experience some of the best independent games ever created has been transformational for Xbox players and developers.
We know talent is universal, and supporting developers of all sizes, from start-up, single-person studios to veteran indies with multiple successful games in the market is crucial. We’re proud that more than 4,600 developers from 94 countries worldwide are looking to deliver experiences to players via Xbox, including more than 1,000 creators who signed up to the ID@Xbox program over the last two years.
Even with over 3,000 games from independent developers on Xbox, we still have a long way to go. One area we talk to developers and players about a lot is “discoverability.” Teams across Microsoft work every day to help solve discovery challenges so players can find games they love, and in turn, ensure developers find the audience for their games. Whether it’s helping announce games like WrestleQuest or Escape Academy to millions of viewers in a /ID@Xbox Showcase with /twitchgaming, providing opportunities for creators to highlight their games on Xbox channels or including their titles in themed sales and promotion, we’re always looking for ways to connect creators with new audiences.
Game Pass is another avenue that helps encourage Xbox players to discover new genres and games. After joining, the average member plays 30% more genres and plays 40% more games, with a majority of those games being outside of Game Pass.
Beyond that, we’re investing a lot in marketing and merchandising programs all the time to ensure that Xbox players anywhere discover the more than 3,000 independent titles available on Xbox.
This GDC, Microsoft also introduced a new program that was born out of feedback from developers – ID@Azure. It’s led by Nick Ferguson, Director of ID@Azure, (who was an original ID@Xbox team member back in 2013, when we were just a virtual team with an idea), and it’s for developers on any platform, from iOS and Android to Switch, PlayStation, and PC (and Xbox, of course!) who want to use Microsoft’s cloud gaming services in their games. If you’re a developer, please check it out at http://www.azure.com/id
Nine years ago, we made a promise to independent developers that we’d work as hard as we could on their behalf, because we knew Xbox players would be stoked to support their work. We don’t by any means consider that promise fulfilled, because we see our work as an ongoing commitment from Xbox to independent developers. But through ID@Xbox, the launch of ID@Azure, our work with Game Pass and beyond to help developers bring their games to Xbox, and with the community response to the amazing games we’re seeing come to the platform, we feel we’re making progress in the right direction.