Microsoft is implementing a streamlined process for publishing games on both the Xbox and Windows stores. Unveiled at the Game Developers Conference, the Xbox Live Creators Program essentially opens the door for mass self-publishing on both Xbox One and PC.
According to a Windows Blog post, “The Creators Program provides game developers access to Xbox Live sign-in, presence and select social features that can all be integrated with their UWP games, and then they can publish their game to Xbox One and Windows 10. This means your title can be seen by every Xbox One owner across the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio this holiday, as well as hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs.”
The list of social features that can be utilized in Creators Program games includes party chat, game hubs, and gameDVR, as well as online leaderboards. However, the UWP — Unified Windows Platform — distinction means that uploaded games won’t support achievements or online multiplayer, two rather important features in most Xbox One games.
The restrictions don’t negate the program’s upside, though. Besides a one-time fee ranging from $20 to $100, publishing games on Xbox One via the Creators Program will be free, and without an approval process. Creators won’t even need an Xbox One dev kit to publish on Xbox One. Supported game engines for development include Construct 2, MonoGame, Unity, and Xenko.
The program will coexist with ID@Xbox, the 2013 initiative that continues to give select independent developers the power to self-publish games on Xbox One using the console’s full range of features. That program has been a success, spawning critical hits such as Inside, Superhot, and Outlast.
Games published using the Xbox Live Creators Program will appear in a new Creators section of the Xbox Store, and the games won’t receive the same marketing and development support provided to ID@Xbox titles.
Still, if you’re a budding game developer, the program will give you the opportunity to share your creations with the world over Xbox Live. You need to be a member of the Xbox Insider Program (formerly known as Xbox Preview) to start using the program. You can apply for Insider access here, and download the Xbox Live Creators SDK to get started. The Creators Store hasn’t launched yet, but Microsoft says users will be able to publish their games soon.