ID@Xbox interview: “Digitial distribution has really changed the game industry”

TrustedReviews talks Windows 10, Xbox One and the rise of the indie with ID@Xbox

Agostino Simonetta, ID@Xbox Account Manager at Microsoft, talks to TrustedReviews about how videogame digital distribution has changed not only the way developers approach titles but also consumer consumption.

ID@Xbox is the programme created by Microsoft to help independent game developers self-publish digital games on the Xbox One – and soon Windows 10 PC too.

The programme provides developers with all the tools required to achieve success on the Xbox Games Store and it’s becoming more and more likely that independent games will become widely played and recognised.

Windows 10 Xbox OneHow excited is the development community about universal apps?
We came out from GDC with a very excited development community reaching out to us to talk more about Windows 10 and how to get involved. We are offering them the Windows universal app platform that with a single binary can bring them to any platform, wherever they might want to go: that being Xbox, that being PC, being a tablet, being a phone, being in the future all of them. That is a very, very easy route to market for them.
 
It seems like Microsoft and Xbox are offering quite a unique opportunity for developers now.
I think that we are possibly a company that offers developers an opportunity to reach devices that people are using at the moment for entertainment and for gaming entertainment. You can reach the living room with Xbox, you can reach the PC in the office or in an environment where you’re working on your laptop, or you can go on mobile phones and on tablets. Again, you will be able to go on all of them.
 
Yes, we’re probably a unique proposition at the moment. We feel pretty good about the feedback that we’re getting from the development community.
 
See also: What is HoloLens? Microsoft’s holographic headset explained

HoloLens
Do you think indie developers will be the ones to drive initial adoption of devices like HoloLens?
I think independent developers are always very keen to embrace technology. We’ve always seen that and they’re always very keen. But who knows what the future will hold. Who knows where the next big thing will come from.
 
We need to focus on our role as an enabler for creators – be that independent or bigger studios – to be able to deliver content and deliver their ideas in the easiest possible ways.
 
Our key role is to focus on the program, focus on our technology and make sure that we deliver the best possible experience for them.
 
Is it difficult to figure out which indie games could be that next big hit?
I think the ID@Xbox program is set up to actually invite people and let them come. With the expansion into the Windows 10 world where we go across multiple platforms, it’s an even more open platform for people to actually come and bring their content to us.
 
The program needs to allow everybody who wants to come, to come as easily as possible.
 
See also: Best Xbox Live Games 2015

The Flame in the Flood
Do you think we’re going to see more AAA developers move to indie dev setups in the future?
I think the revolution in digital distribution and programmes like ID@Xbox have really changed the way the games consumers are playing and the way creators are creating their games.
 
When I started in the industry, there was no real digital distribution and some of the ideas that are possible today, would not have been possible then when the only distribution channel was retail.
 
Some of the ideas that we’re seeing here today [EGX Rezzed], they are completely a child of the digital distribution and programmes like ID@Xbox.
 
Programmes like this are really enabling developers to come out with amazing ideas, innovative ideas, so we are already seeing that evolution of how titles are developed.
 
Will it still be the same in two or three years time? I wish I knew. It’s a constant evolution that where from one quarter to another, things change. Games that are successful change. But I don’t think there’s been any moment in time that it’s been more exciting to be in videogame development as it is today.
 
Do you find there’s more consumer demand for indie games?
I think consumer taste is evolving as well as the programmes are evolving. I don’t think we’d see amazing successes for independent developers titles otherwise. It’s not an opinion, we’re seeing this success happening. It is proven. We can now say, after a few years, that it is proven.
 
It’s like music, they have the big labels and they have the independent labels and there are successes to be had.
 
See also: Why SteamVR and HTC Vive will win the virtual reality race

HTC Vive
What’s your take on the explosion of VR?
It’s great to see so many new things coming out and so much innovation across the board. We love technology, that’s what brings us here today. So any innovation is a great innovation that we like to follow. We are great believers in technical innovation, so we’re very excited.
 
It’s the best moment probably in history to be in this industry. The pace of change is just breath taking.