As has been said a number of times in the run-up to the new console launches, indie games are going to play an important part in the new generation of competition between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
We've already seen both Sony and Nintendo's commitment to supporting independent developers via their respective online storefronts, but up until now we've heard relatively little from Microsoft about its indie plans for Xbox One, save for the existence of the ID@Xbox program and the fact that any Xbox One can supposedly be turned into a dev kit easily.
Today, however, ID@Xbox director Chris Charla announced the first wave of developers who have signed up to participate in the company's fledgling self-publishing program. And there's some big names among the list.
Notably, two Japanese developers -- Inis and Comcept -- have signed up to create and self-publish games on Xbox One. Inis is a developer that specializes in music games -- and the company that brought us Gitaroo Man and Elite Beat Agents -- while Comcept is Keiji Inafune's independent studio, currently working on Mega Man successor Mighty No. 9.
Pinball fans will be pleased to hear that Zen Studios has signed up to the program, too, so expect some sort of Zen Pinball/PinballFX incarnation on Xbox One, while those who enjoy party games can doubtless expect to see some form of You Don't Know Jack game on the platform due to Jackbox Games' involvement.
RPG fans will be able to enjoy Zeboyd Games' upcoming Phantasy Star-inspired title Cosmic Star Heroine (above) on Xbox One, though Robert Boyd from the developer notes that the Xbox version will be launching after the already announced PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Vita versions in 2014. Boyd told our sister site Eurogamer that the Xbox One version was an attempt for him and his team to "gain experience with the Xbox One for the possibility of future projects."
Curiously, Crytek, developer of Ryse, has also signed up to the program, perhaps to give them more creative freedom when it comes to future titles, plus other established teams such as Worms creator Team 17 -- who recently moved into indie publishing as well as development -- and Double Fine are also on board. That's a pretty broad definition of "indie," all told -- still, if it gives developers more creative control and freedom to pursue the projects they want to pursue, it can hopefully only be a good thing.
Speaking with a number of independent developers at the Eurogamer Expo earlier this year, a common theme was that a lot of teams were hesitant to trust Microsoft thanks to a lack of communication from the corporate giant -- or in some cases prior to the launch of the ID@Xbox program, simply having the door closed in their faces. By comparison, all the independent devs I spoke to had nothing but positive things to say about Sony's indie push on PS4 and Vita, led by the charismatic Shahid Ahmad.
Now that the Xbox One is on the market and the ID@Xbox program is seemingly getting underway, hopefully these teams will have the opportunity to bring their titles to a wider audience on Xbox One as well as other platforms they might be supporting.