Microsoft’s [email protected] program aims to give developers the necessary access to get their games self-published on Xbox Live for the Xbox One without having to make a deal with a publisher. But the program is drawing criticism from indie developers, and restrictive launch policies are inadvertently locking out some very popular games from appearing on the platform.
I Game Responsibly (iGR) reported yesterday (9 December 2013) that Witch Beam’s shooter epic, Assault Android Cactus, wouldn’t be coming to the Xbox One platform – ever – and as a result was also locked out of the [email protected] program because of the events surrounding their game.
Speaking to iGR, Witch Beam’s Sanatana Mishra said that the program initially looked attractive and had the team hoping they could be on the Xbox One platform as well.
“Unfortunately we started work on our PS4, Vita, and Wii U versions of Assault Android Cactus before the program was announced and have no intentions of delaying those versions to meet their launch parity clause,” stated Mishra.
“In a somewhat ironic twist it seems having a temporary exclusive agreement with another platform from before the ID announcement actually helps your chances of getting a waiver for the clause, but we opted out of exclusivity to keep our options open and are now locked out of the program.”
Microsoft’s policies preventing Assault Android Cactus appearing on Xbox Live apply to all developers – and they’re policies that only help Microsoft’s chances when the game launches, instead of fostering an open and free indie game industry on the consoles. The policies apply specifically to game release dates and have been simplified below (legal jargon cut out).
Developers are allowed to self-publish a game through the [email protected] program only if:
- They release on Xbox before any other platforms.
- They release on Xbox on the same day as other platforms.
- They held a previous exclusivity deal on another platform for their game before the [email protected] program was announced.
Should they be successful in signing up, developers will receive two free Xbox One development kits as well as free support from Microsoft and a license to use the Unity engine for their games.