Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One: 'It was sort of weird'

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Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One: 'It was sort of weird'
Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One 'It was sort of weird'
Microsoft's reveal of its next-gen console, the Xbox One, was high on broad entertainment apps such as Skype, interactive programming, media management and Kinect-powered features. Games saw a smaller showing, with two new announcements and a trailer for Call of Duty: Ghosts. Indie games got an even smaller nod – that is, none at all.

E3 is right around the corner, with the Microsoft conference on June 10. Maybe that's where all of the Xbox One games are hiding, along with the console's indie plan. We asked a handful of indie developers what Microsoft's presentation today said to them specifically, and what they want to see at E3. Below we have responses from Rami Ismail of Ridiculous Fishing fame, Octodad's Philip Tibitoski, DLC Quest's Ben Kane, Charlie Murder's James Silva, Retro City Rampage's Brian Provinciano and Fez's Phil Fish.

Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One 'It was sort of weird'
Rami Ismail, Vlambeer

"We think it's interesting that Microsoft is taking the Xbox away from gaming as its core business, but it was sort of weird watching this event go down. We did see some indie developers in the opening video, so there obviously is an indie strategy somewhere, but I don't think we know a thing about Xbox One and gaming – they still have to show their hand with regards to that at E3. The whole presentation felt sort of awkward, but the D-pad looks really nice. Sadly, at this point the thing we're looking forward to most for the Xbox One is Skype on our TV."

Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One 'It was sort of weird'
Philip Tibitoski, Young Horses

"As an indie and developer the Xbox One reveal didn't really say anything to me. The stuff with fantasy sports is cool and all, but I was more interested in seeing how the marketplace/store might have changed or how discovery was being handled. This reveal was for a different audience and I'll be interested to see what they talk about at E3 when they're ready to talk software.

"Are they opening up avenues for smaller developers? We've seen efforts from the other big players like Steam Greenlight, or what Sony has been up to with PS3 and Vita, or even the recent announcements of PS4 indies like Hohokum. Mobile is open and Sony is opening up while making developer-related processes more simplistic to focus on games. What exactly is Microsoft planning for this to be on parity with others? I can't tell from what they've revealed so far, except that there are smaller developers shown in the opening video reel."

Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One 'It was sort of weird'
Ben Kane, Going Loud Studios

"While it wasn't the content I hoped to learn about, I do accept that Microsoft's living room strategy has many facets beyond gaming, and that's what today was about. I'll wait to hear more about Xbox Live, digital distribution, the marketplace, and where indies fit in. I don't think there was a message here for indie developers, but I also don't read anything nefarious from that. The presentation was simply directed at a different aspect of 'living room entertainment.'

"An Xbox Live Indie Games successor, whether direct (a premium-but-open service where anyone can make and sell games) or spiritual (a more open XBLA-style partnership hopefully with a much lower barrier for entry) would be at the top of my list for things I'd like to see at the E3 presentation."

Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One 'It was sort of weird'
James Silva, Ska Studios

"As a consumer, I'm excited. We use an Xbox 360 as an entertainment hub anyway, so getting a more robust, snappier version of that is a win. And lag-free Kinect is something I really, really wanted the instant Kinect 1.0 debuted, so that's great.

"As a developer of semi-simple 2D indie games, I'm looking forward to playing with one, though our style isn't going anywhere – it'll just end up with some more gratuitously excessive particle systems."

Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One 'It was sort of weird'
Brian Provinciano, Vblank Entertainment

"Their intention from the first Xbox was to own the living room, and the evolution of the 360 showed this trajectory in motion. The Xbox One is them realizing this vision. The problem is, they're leaving core gamers behind. You would've thought that the reaction to their E3 2012 press conference would've been a wake up call, but they're on a different course. They see more money in general entertainment, media and ads than core gamers. They see dollar signs with subscription fees. They want the revenue stream that cable providers and phone carriers have been enjoying. I'm certain that the Xbox One will launch with the base price plus a 2 - 3 year contract. The unfortunate thing about this is that many consumers will be fooled by the lower price point, even though they'll end up paying more in the long run.

"They're preaching TV services to gamers and gamer press, the exact group of people who will be least receptive to it. Microsoft's direction isn't in line with E3, it's in line with CES.

"Despite delaying their announcement a month, they still failed to capitalize on the opportunity to recalibrate after the PS4 announcement. I'm quite surprised by how limited their attempts were to one-up the PS4.

"Prior to this conference, I was expecting that at least during the E3 presentation, Microsoft would pander to indies in some way. They remain the only platform which prevents self-publishing. I wouldn't expect anything other than just talk from them, but I was expecting them to address indies nonetheless. However, after this, I could see them leaving indies out completely. After all, they have their eye on the average consumer, not the core gamer. Average consumers aren't as versed in the 'indie' game scene."

Microsoft's message to indies with Xbox One 'It was sort of weird'
Phil Fish, Polytron

"What a giant load of shit that was! All buzzwords! They talked for an hour and basically said nothing. What does 'always ready' mean?"

Fish shares his frustration with the world on Twitter, too: "There was absolutely nothing relevant to me in that presser. Nothing about digital distribution or indies. Nothing at all." And this tweet, which we'll let you read on your own time, preferably when you're not at work.
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