Microsoft Coy On Aussie Access To Xbox One's Self-Published Games

The Xbox One will be supporting self-publishing for indie games, and every unit will also be a developer console. That's fantastic news - but will Australians benefit from this feature? Microsoft has an official statement on the matter.

In yesterday's article, it was first revealed that games could be developed on every Xbox One, and they were targetting the ability to play in-progress code. We later found out that all games would be a part of one store, instead of indies being relegated to a 2nd-class channel with 3rd-class curation.

But just because all games will be in the same store, doesn't mean Australians will have access to them. We currently don't have access to the XBLIG channel, for various reasons, and there's every reason to worry this new feature will pass us over as well.

Our classification scheme is expensive. In some cases it's not worth releasing the game in this region, and its cost is certainly disproportionate to the size of our market. Here's some more information on exactly what those costs are.

That's if everything's legit - of course, there are so many apps and downloadable games that many get through without being locally classified at all, which is why some are considering a form of automated classification. Xbox Live isn't immune to games that slip through the classification cracks.

Perhaps a bigger issue though, is that of rights - that bane of many a media product that makes it so difficult to come out in Australia at the same time, if at all. If there are avenues to share, play, or even purchase incomplete code, then that might be a a way around the need to check local copyright to publish games here. But we aren't so high a priority to change their whole structure. It's perhaps more likely for any titles that prove runaway successes (such as Minecraft) to be retroactively made available in as many regions as possible.

I asked Microsoft what their plans were for bringing self-published indie titles to Australia, and they responded with the following quote from Corporate Vice President of Xbox Marc Whitten:

Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox Live. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox Live. We'll have more details on the program and the timeline at gamescom in August.

No news until Gamescom, it looks like. If either console could one-up the other on available indie games, it could be a major boon. If 2012 proved anything, it's that the innovation of indie games are capable of picking up triple-A's slack, both critically and commercially.


Comments

    Let's face the main fact here. Unless you are American, Microsoft doesn't give a flying F*** about you; whether it be developer, publisher or gamer.

      It's not nationalistic, it's financial. It's more like: Unless we can generate a profit, we're not going to invest the infrastructure to make this service available out of the kindness of our hearts as a sort of charity to gamers.

      We're a tiny market with financial barriers to entry. If Microsoft found a way to make crazy money from Australian Indie games, there would be an Aussie flag up on the dashboard and an animated kangaroo showing us around the online store.

      Last edited 26/07/13 11:28 am

        Actually we are quite a large market, with a higher spend per person than many other countries and the ability to exploit the "Australian Tax," which Microsoft themselves have said helped fund RND on several bits of their software during the price inquiry.

        So no, that isn't a valid excuse. Also the focus of the article was more about would we get to play those indie games rather than develop them, we will be able to develop one way or another for the One, it is if we will actually be able to publish to Australian gamers is in question.

        Last edited 26/07/13 11:33 am

          Well I think it is about the money. XBLIG didn't make much money for Microsoft, so they had no incentive to try to overcome the classification hurdles of Australia for a market that is at best 10% of the size. If the money was there they would have made it happen, come hell or high water.

          I actually agree that MS is very US focused with their push for NFL and fantasy football, but I don't think not bringing self-published indie games to Australia (if that is indeed the case) would be motivated by some nationalistic US-centric focus, which is what the message I was replying to inferred.

            I was under the impression that XBLIG was unavailable in Australia because the censorship ratings board does not allow unregulated to be purchased and sold. So it never had anything to do with microsoft corporate strategies
            Although I enjoy the blatant hatred directed at them, I mean, Sony gets nothing but unabashed praise for their apparently liberal stance on content licensing, you know, despite them patenting http://torrentfreak.com/sony-video-players-should-be-internet-connected-to-beat-pirates-130703/

            But nawwwww, microsoft is evil.

              There is a lot of MS hatred and bias towards Sony, but not from me. I'm keen on the Xbox One and will pick it up soon after launch.

              Yes, you're right that XBLIG are unavailable in Australia because it would cost too much to put the games through classification. As I said, it comes down to it not being financially viable, not because MS ignores all non US countries.

                And yet the majority of indie games on PSN are available to Australians. Some aren't, it's true, but classification submission is generally up to the publisher, so I don't see that MS should apply a blanket restriction on the indie games channel because of classification issues.

                Don't worry Puck, I was taking in what you were putting down, so at least one person read both the article and your comment all the way through...

                I think you're spot on - it's foolish for any individual be they consumer or otherwise to expect a business to choose a harder and less profitable route to market, as per your comment (I got your back Bro).

                Besides that fact, shouldn't we just be grateful for the games we DO get? I mean, what are you gonna do? Get on the internet and whinge about it to a bunch of strangers...?

      It's the ESRB that are the problem in Australia. They have WAY too much power.

      R 18+ rating my arse. It's just MA 15+ with a different letter.

    Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox Live. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox Live. We’ll have more details on the program and the timeline at gamescom in August.Am I just reading it wrong or is this a fancy way of saying "No Comment"? Sure, anyone can be a creator. Australians already make XBLIG games now, it's just no one except Americans can browse and purchase them.

      Make a US account if you want to play them so badly. It takes 5 minutes and you can link any Paypal account to it to purchase any US-only content. You can then play all of those games with your Australian account and even get achievements for games that aren't available here. I've been doing this for games like State of Decay etc for years now. It's not difficult...AT ALL.

    The last time Microsoft said "We'll have more details at..." the XBO was the laughing stock of the console war. So this doesn't bode well, to me.

      So prepare to be disappointed, and then prepare to be relieved again when they're inevitably forced to change their mind thanks to consumer backlash and competitors forcing their hand.

    How do all the indie games on steam get around this classification issue?

      If memory serves, it's to do with inconsistent legislation. Classification legislation is enacted at the state level, and the state laws around classification of content on PCs is inconsistent - not every state requires it at the same level, if at all. Steam is one of many channels you could purchase games through, as well.

      Consoles are different - they're all tied to the manufacturer, and that manufacturer is held responsible for the content going to the ACB.

        That is interesting. How does it work for apps on Apple iTunes? Isn't that all tied to the manufacturer (Apple) as well?

          Not sure, but as iTunes started life as "computer software", it probably falls in the same bucket as Steam. Apps do get reported to the ACB (I'm pretty sure Allure have reported on a few instances), but there's a general sense that Apple's approach to what would be of concern to the ACB is stricter than the ACB's own, I suspect. Movies and music certainly have to have a classification.

    Just make a US account. But be warned, the indie games channel will leave you sorely wanting, it is like the sewer of gaming. It's a monument to unoriginality and how close you can get to infringing copyright. It's full of fireplace screen savers and marital aids, I'm not even kidding. Letting any redneck get their game published is a bad idea.

    Ha, this will NEVER eventuate.
    In the infinitesimally small chance Microsoft doesn't quietly sweep it under the rug like they did a lot of the current gen promises, Australia won't see it.

    Considering mobile phone apps are not censored or certified and haven't been for years, I think it's only fair the same goes for consoles.

    Does Microsoft think we have the attention span of a parrot or something? Spouting a bunch of bull to avoid answering a question is dodgy as hell and makes them look bad... pretty obvious they don't give a poo about their customers. Hopefully it comes back to bite them in the ass.

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