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Mods for Xbox One will most likely require developer endorsement

With Microsoft’s developer-focused Build 2016 conference taking place this week, it doesn’t come as a surprise that there are a handful of Xbox reveals emerging from the event. And today’s news has to do with a couple of the most elusive features set to make their way to the console later this year: mods and overlays.

While not entirely specific to the Xbox, overlays like FRAPS can easily be ported to a Universal Windows Application from Win32. Unfortunately, mods — such as those from Steam Workshop — won’t be quite as painless.

It appears as though mods have to first be vetted by the original developer of any specific game before you’ll be able to install them on your system, according to Xbox head Phil Spencer, as reported by PC Gamer. If someone finds a way to make a more realistic rendition of Minecraft on Xbox, for instance, it will probably have to go through Mojang before setting foot on consumer hardware.

While this wasn’t explicitly confirmed, Spencer did admit that some mods can be “malicious” to the system, thereby essentially removing any reasonable doubt.

“The mods where we’ll probably have some discussion, is … if I go in and change the executable in a way — if I actually go in and reorder the code or inject code paths the developer didn’t originally intend, [then] the problem is, I don’t know if that modification is to fix a broken game, or to add some kind of phishing tool to the game so that now it’s capturing my passwords as I’m typing them into Chrome.”

What I find most striking is that Spencer uses Chrome rather than Microsoft Edge as his example.

“I don’t know as the developer, or more importantly as the consumer, which of those it is,” he continued. “So I would always try to find an endorsed path by the game creator to say, ‘here’s how we want people injecting code and modifications into the game’ and us supporting that, which we will go do. This idea that things can kind of run amok on the machine, and put, I’m going to say, malicious code — not saying mods are malicious, but it’s hard to differentiate.”

Essentially, it looks as though mods permitted by the developer, such as those for Fallout 4 on Steam Workshop, will be easy to get a hold of. On the downside, we likely won’t see mods that fundamentally alter the game’s code.