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    ID@XBOX Comes Of Age

    Right now, most major publishers are chasing the booming indie market and Microsoft is no different with its ID@Xbox programme.

    The firm is coming off a busy few months. At GDC it announced that it was planning on having games from the scheme appear on both Xbox consoles and Windows 10 devices. It has also been showing off some 22 titles including Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight and Makin Games’ Raging Justice at GDC, Rezzed and PAX East.

    “I joined the team [from PlayStation] nearly six months ago to increase our efforts in the European region,” ID@Xbox account manager Agostino Simonetta says. “It feels like we are having a very good moment. This month has been a fantastic time for us and there are some excellent titles on the way. It feels pretty good at the moment, but we are also increasing our efforts.”

    The big news coming out of GDC is that ID@Xbox titles will be able to launch on Windows 10 as well as Xbox One.

    “ID@Xbox’s aim is to enable devs that want to bring their content to Windows 10 devices. Those range from PC, desktop, laptop, Surface and touch devices. We’ve allowed developers to bring their content over with integration of all the features of Xbox Live. Developers can choose to launch games on both platforms with cross-platform functionality.

    “The reception has been fantastic. Developers quickly realised the opportunity that Windows 10 is offering them and there’s an element of trust in the ID@Xbox programme and seeing the success we are already having on the console, so we have plenty of developers coming to us and talking to us about their plans and what they want to do.” 

    Microsoft hopes that by utilising the strength of its Xbox brand it can reclaim the ground it has lost in the PC space to Steam. Not that Simonetta sees Valve’s PC platform as a rival to Windows 10.

    “I admire Steam as a platform, but we don’t see this as a competitor,” he says. “In fact, we announced at GDC that  Steam and Steam games will be compatible with Windows 10, so our priority is simply to ensure the best games are available on our platforms.”

    When ID@Xbox was first announced, the programme was criticised for its strict parity clauses for developers. Studios had to launch their games on Xbox One first, or simultaneously with other platforms. However, the company has since pulled back a little on this policy.
    No-one could have predicted Minecraft. We’re letting indies express themselves and then great content will follow.
    “It’s very simple,” Simonetta explains. “If an indie developer needs to ship serially, because they don’t have the resources to ship simultaneously, we totally get that and it’s not a problem.

    “But if the game’s not going to be out on Xbox for a significant period of time, whether it’s because the developer signed an exclusivity agreement, or worked on a different project in between, we ask that they add something so the game feels fresh on Xbox.”

    And Simonetta and ID@Xbox is continuing its indie outreach, planning events around the world to reach developers “ID@Xbox will organise events across the globe and we are going to be a lot more visible at industry events as well,” Simonetta explains. “The effort is there. We know that we are doing a great job at the moment, but we also know we need to keep striving to be better.

    “We’re enabling developers to come up with amazing ideas that we never predicted. Titles that have been so successful that they could peak Minecraft. Minecraft is  not something that could have been predicted or looked for. We should enable developers to express themselves, and then the great content will follow.”

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