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Unity on Xbox One will be free for all ID@Xbox devs next year

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Developers participating in the ID@Xbox indie program will receive the Unity add-on for Xbox One for free when it launches in 2014, as well as the opportunity to obtain a special Xbox One-only Unity Pro license, Microsoft announced today.

Microsoft's intentions with releasing Unity to developers for free is to level the playing field. The goal is to give all indie studios — whether they are working alongside Microsoft in Seattle or farther away in England or Japan — the same opportunities in developing for the Xbox One.

"If one thing has become clear as we've been working on ID@Xbox, our independent developer self-publishing program for Xbox One, it's that today's independent game developers are using middleware to help realize their visions more than ever," wrote Chris Charla, direct of ID@Xbox, in a press statement. "Of course, middleware isn't cheap.

"We talked internally at ID@Xbox about ways we could help developers for Xbox One," he added. "Many developers we talk to are using Unity today to get up and running quickly, and to be able to harness the power of hardware and realize their creative visions without spending tons of time on technology development. We thought about paying for some developers' Unity licenses but the more we talked about it, the more we felt paying for some developers' licenses and not others just didn't feel right."

During the Build 2013 conference in July, Microsoft announced that the Unity 3D engine would be supported on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Today, Microsoft added that the Unity app will use "every element" on the Xbox One, including Kinect support, SmartGlass integration and the next-gen controller's impulse triggers.

"As always, our goal at ID@Xbox and Microsoft remains the same: We want to lower friction for developers on Microsoft platforms to make sure gamers get access to the broadest and deepest library of amazing games on the planet," Charla said.

In March, Sony announced that Unity would be available for the PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and Vita, as well as the company's future cloud services. Nintendo also announced earlier this year it would bring Unity to the Wii U with access to all the console's features, including the GamePad controller.