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Xbox boss explains insistence on 'launch parity' for indie games

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Phil Spencer, who leads Microsoft's Xbox division, said Xbox's "launch parity" requirement of indie games — that a game comes out on Xbox One at the same time it does any other console — exists because it wants Xbox owners to feel like a "first-class citizen."

"I look at all the people who buy an Xbox, and they invest their time and their money in Xbox One, and, as millions of people obviously own Xbox Ones, I want them to feel like they're first-class, because they are," Spencer told The Inner Circle podcast this week.

"I want Xbox to feel like it's a first-class citizen when an indie game launches," Spencer added.

"Launch parity" is a clause attached to its agreement with independent developers in its ID@Xbox program, and it has come under criticism from the games development community for being an unnecessary restriction that hinders, rather than supports, indie games.

Microsoft said this spring it would address the launch parity issue "on a case-by-case basis," to include worthy games that have signed a timed exclusive deal with another platform.

Spencer told the podcast he has many friends who run independent studios and he understands "they just can't get both games done at the same time, all three games, all four games, depending on how many platforms they're supporting. So I always just say, 'Let's have a conversation.'"

The launch parity clause, Spencer said, exists because,"I don't want somebody to come in and just think 'I'm going to go do a special game on one platform and then I'll get to Xbox whenever I get to it,' because I don't think that's right."