In July 2013, Microsoft confirmed it would allow indie game developers to self-publish their titles on its Xbox One console. On August 20, 2013, a few months before the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft came to Gamescom in Cologne, Germany to officially announce the indie games publishing program, which it called “Independent Developers @ Xbox” or ID@Xbox for short.
Today, the company posted a short film on its Xbox YouTube channel to celebrate the first 10 years of the ID@Xbox program, which has since expanded to the more recent Xbox Series X and S consoles.
The over 11 minute film charts some of the history of the program, going back to Xbox Live Arcade’s success on the older Xbox 360 program. That digital-only game platform led directly to ID@Xbox for the Xbox One. Microsoft made a commitment to give small game developers all the tools they needed to make games. including a way to get two Xbox One dev units shipped to them at no extra charge.
Chris Charla, the co-founder of ID@Xbox, stated that after the Gamescom announcement in 2013, the company received 1,000 applications to join the program in just the first hour. Since then, the program has shipped over 3,000 games and has over 3,000 other games in development. Microsoft has also paid over $4 billion in total revenues to the developers of ID@Xbox titles.
In the process, the program has also released some of the most innovative and acclaimed game console titles of all time, including Cuphead, Hades, and more. However, the program is also about the people who make these indie titles and how they can use the tools Microsoft gives them to offer them to the world.
Charla offered an example of such a small game developer that was helped by ID@Xbox:
I’ve told this story before, but there’s a dev who had never made a game, he was working in a warehouse to support his wife who’s in school, and she was like, ‘You should take the time to make a game’. He taught himself Game Maker, made a game – objectively not the world’s greatest game – but he got into ID@Xbox, shipped the game and it really changed the course of his working life. He was able to ship more games through ID@Xbox and eventually got a job with a publisher – so to me, that’s one of my favourite ID@Xbox games, even though if you played it, you might be like, ‘This is solid, it’s not the best game,’ but getting to getting to know those backstories is just tremendous.
It will be interesting to see how ID@Xbox evolves in the future. and what small indie game developer groups will emerge to use the program to make games that big publishers normally would not touch.