Microsoft’s support of indie games on Xbox One has been a mixed bag at best. The company initially shocked and surprised fans and developers when they said that the Xbox One wouldn’t support self publishing and that indies would need publisher backing to make it onto the console. They also explained that Xbox One retail units could be used as dev kits before Microsoft then warned against it.
The ID@Xbox program didn’t get off to such a great start then and it was criticized by devs like Gone Home’s Steve Gaynor who said that the program’s ‘parity clause’ would drive indies to PS4. The parity clause dictated that while a game could come to as many platforms as devs desired, Xbox One would have to get the game at the same time as them and not afterwards. That’s particularly stifling to devs as those who want to use PC to iron out the kinks in their game would no longer be able to do so, making PS4 (which doesn’t have a parity clause and lets devs release their game in any order that they wish) a better, friendlier and more business savvy option.
It’s not all bad news for Microsoft’s indie platform though, as the ability for devs to set their own pricing has likely been a draw for the many indie games announced for Xbox One at E3, such as Red Riding Hood platformer Woolfe and Ridge Racer-esque Spectra. So, running off the positive fumes of E3, Microsoft is using the Gamescom event to announce even more indie titles for Xbox One.
Many of the games are known titles already published by indies on PC. In the above trailer, the asteroid laden world of Space Engineers could be seen as a lonely astronaut took to the skies to gentrify outer space (more on Space Engineers for Xbox One here) whilst Plague Inc: Evolved is going to let us unleash deadly viruses onto the global population in the same sadistic way as the PC version.
Goat Simulator is also another high profile game in that featurette after it vacuumed up support amongst gamers, zoomed through Steam Greenlight and genuinely impressed us upon release despite being about a deranged goat with a penchant for mayhem. Meanwhile, time and space bending FPS SuperHot even broke Steam Greenlight records, becoming the fastest game to get get greenlit and so that too will be a hot prospect when it comes to Xbox One.
After criticism from some about Microsoft only letting the ‘bigger name indie devs’ in the door, it’s also refreshing to see that lesser known teams and sequels are being embraced alike. Produce pulverizing title Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 got as much of the spotlight as Cuphead, a run and gun indie (and the first game from two-man dev Studio MDHR), showing that finally Microsoft is getting its act together about encouraging indies of all size, scope and stature to bring their games to Xbox One.
There’s still work to be done, though. The parity clause is still very much in effect and not every game is going to have the clout and muscle to bypass it like Red Barrels’ Outlast (which released on PC and PS4 first) but indie developers now have more options than ever to bring their games to fanbases that are hungry to play them and given the quality of many of these titles, that’s certainly not something for us gamers to sniff at.