I posted the following in response to a post by Mary Jo Foley, but figured I’d also put it here (especially since I got “Your comment contains words or phrases associated with spam and will not appear on the site until it has been checked by a moderator.” (is XNA now spam?) when I submitted it and don’t know when it’ll appear):
"But when chided for not announcing details of plans for supporting indie gamers on Xbox One this week, Guggenheimer deflected that criticsm."
We’re not looking for details, just a concrete answer. The E3 presentations showed Sony giving a lot of love to indies, while MS gave virtually none. With MS abandoning XNA this was tough to swallow. Then yesterday there was – http://youtu.be/qdpAM4GV6oU
A lot of us took this to mean that there would be some announcement that gave indies some love. When the @unity3d Twitter account tweeted "Anybody following #bldwin? Something interesting coming up soon.. #unity3d" a lot of thought there might finally be a resolution to the indie issue on Xbox. Unity3D is primarily an indie (both small and large) tool for game development. Imagine our surprise then when we see this (from here – http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/xbox-one-unity-announcement):
"Developers who build games published by Microsoft Studios now have access to Unity tools for Xbox 360 and Xbox One free of charge and can create interactive 3D and 2D experiences."
It’s not as if regular indies have a shot at getting Microsoft Studios to act as their publisher. But when we think we’ve been completely abandonded at the end of that page is:
"As we look ahead, we look forward to sharing more information on our plans to help empower everyone from the independent game developer looking to make publishing to the console easy to the app developer who wants to bring new experiences to the television."
The problem with this is that between the whole "no self-publishing on Xbox One" and the previous quote limiting the Unity tools to devs that have an association with Microsoft Studios, we’re still left wondering what MS is doing? Does "independent" mean "John Smith in his basement creating games in his free and is currently using XBLIG to publish on Xbox 360" or does it mean studios like Double Fine that can do a Kickstarter and raise millions of dollars on their name and background alone? If the former, why can MS just come out and say it and give us a break? I personally am fine with waiting if I know at the end I’ll be able to continue doing Xbox development without having to take a 2nd mortgage on my house to fund it. Just give us a concrete answer; don’t keep stringing us along.
The quick mention of a contest during the Keynote led some of us to believe that MS and Unity might be planning a new version of the DreamBuildPlay contest, just using Unity3D instead of XNA. That would have been awesome. Alas, it’s Windows and WP8, no Xbox – http://unity3d.com/contest/windows
I get the feeling MS is just flailing about, trying to do good, but only half-way succeeding. They had an awesome thing going with XBLIG. While there is a lot of junk that made it’s way on the service, there are also a lot of great games, some of which have generated huge amounts of money for both MS and the devs, letting some devs move into full-time game development for a living. This is probably the dream of a lot of indies and we were hoping MS would continue to give us a chance to realize that dream. Right now, though it’s like we’re dogs sitting under the table, hoping for some crumbs to drop and MS is teasing us by holding a big chunk of prime rib out and then yanking it back.
I’ve been supporting MS and helping the community ever since the XNA beta and would love to do so for years to come, but it’s hard to plan which way to go without definitive answers. That’s all we’re looking for.