It's eight hours into the Xbox Spring Showcase, a day-long Microsoft event in San Francisco. I'm sitting across from Xbox head Phil Spencer, who has spent a large portion of his day fielding questions from journalists. Eventually, our one-on-one discussion leads us to game creation on Xbox One, and the various ways Microsoft strives to remove road blocks for developers.
"You mentioned making development on Xbox One as easy as possible," I say. "This is kind of a niche question, but I remember in the early days of the Xbox One, there was talk..."
Spencer leans back in his seat and laughs.
"You know where this is going, huh?"
"I know where this is going. You're gonna get kicked from over here!" he jokes, gesturing to the PR managers flanking him.
"So, this idea that the Xbox One would eventually become a dev kit, that every Xbox One..."
"That's a good idea, right there! That's a good idea!" Spencer laughs.
Then, his answer: "I cannot update on that front right now, but I think the idea that you're talking about is a perfect example of ... way back in the day, third-party publishers paid thousands of dollars for console dev kits. That clearly kept you and I from starting a game company, because it would soak up most of our money just buying the dev kits."
"Then, indies were embraced — Sony did a great job, I'm not saying we were unique on this — we had our ID@Xbox program where, when you're accepted, we sent you two dev kits. Which was a way to say: 'Go start building games!'" Spencer says. "We don't want the price of the hardware to be a barrier. And you can distribute them digitally so you don't even have to deal with all the retail stuff and make that work."
Still, he says, the idea of every Xbox One functioning as a dev kit is one he continues to find compelling. "The idea that you and I might just want to riff on something on our own at home and see if we can create something very very easily even before we submit to ID — that makes a lot of sense to me."