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Microsoft opens Xbox development to everyone with Xbox Live Creators Program

Xbox One “now an open platform for publishing”

Xbox One console, controller & accessories
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Microsoft is giving game developers a new way to bring their games to Xbox One and Windows 10. At the Game Developers Conference today, the company announced the Xbox Live Creators Program, a new initiative that will bring “fully open game publishing” to Xbox One.

Chris Charla, director of the ID@Xbox program at Microsoft, said that “everyone” can use the Xbox Live Creators Program to make games for Xbox and PC. Anyone can go to a retail store, buy an Xbox One, (figuratively) crack it open, and develop and ship a game for the console, Charla said.

The Xbox Live Creators Program will exist alongside ID@Xbox, Microsoft’s indie-focused program that lets qualified game developers self-publish digital games on Xbox One and Windows 10. The Xbox Live Creators Program will be open to all, Charla said, and participants can use retail Xbox One consoles for development.

“With the Creators Program, anyone can integrate Xbox Live sign-in, presence, and social features into their UWP games, then publish their game to Xbox One and Windows 10,” Charla said in a statement on “This means their title can see exposure to every Xbox One owner across the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio this holiday, as well as hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs, and millions of folks using the Xbox app on mobile platforms.”

The Xbox Live Creators Program will come with its own set of restrictions. While developers will be able to self-publish games, they’ll need to make them using Microsoft’s Unified Windows Platform. That means Creators Program developers won’t have access to the full power of the Xbox One. Creators Program games also won’t be able to access Xbox Live achievements, Gamerscore or multiplayer matchmaking through Xbox Live.

Creators Program developers will, however, get access to Xbox Live features like leaderboards and party chat.

Charla said that developers who do want the “max power” of the Xbox One and Project Scorpio will need a hardware-based SDK, which means they’ll need to apply for ID@Xbox or work with a third-party publisher. Charla noted that developers who ship a game via the Creators Program can apply for ID@Xbox membership at any time, even after their game ships.

Games published through the Xbox Live Creators Program will be sold in a dedicated Creators section of the Xbox Games Store. And while Microsoft won’t hold Creators Program developers to non-disclosure agreements or concept approvals, the company said it reserves the right to remove “harmful or inappropriate content” from the Creators store.

Taking part in Xbox Live Creators Program carries a one-time fee, which ranges from $20 to $100.

Charla, who touted the broad developer reach of the ID@Xbox program at the beginning of this GDC keynote, said he views the option to develop, publish and sell games with a retail console as an important step.

“You haven’t been able to make a game on a consumer piece of technology since the Commodore 64,” he said.

Microsoft attempted something similar, letting indie devs self-publish on Xbox 360 with the now-defunct Xbox Live Indie Games initiative, back in 2006. The company shut down that program last year.

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