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.