When Microsoft started the ID@Xbox program with the launch of the Xbox One, the company aimed to make it as easy and cheap as possible for independent developers to put their games on the system. But according to one developer, the costs associated with porting a game to the Xbox One are still very high.
In a post on his blog, Happion Laboratories' Jamie Fristrom outlined exactly how much it cost him to bring Sixty Second Shooter from the PC to the Xbox One. He was surprised by just how much money console development still requires, especially because Microsoft gives Xbox development kits out for free to qualifying teams. He wrote, "You might think, since Microsoft is giving away their dev kits to early adopters of the ID@Xbox program, as long as you have no offices and pay everyone with rev[enue] share you could ship a game for just about nothing. But that's not quite the case."
He presents a breakdown of the costs associated with the program, which you can see below.
Maintaining the Sixty Second Shooter URL -- $19
Sending the second dev kit to a friend -- $63
Hardware -- $72
Video capture device -- $181
Localization -- $729
Error and Omission Insurance -- $2037
Foreign Ratings Boards -- $2042
Total -- $5143
For a small developer with very limited funds, this can be prohibitively expensive. According to Fristrom, Microsoft requires specific Errors and Omissions insurance to protect against copyright infringements. To launch on the console in other territories, Microsoft also requires that a game pass through the ratings boards in those areas, resulting in a spike in cost. He wrote also that he wanted to launch the game in Australia and New Zealand, but getting it rated would have cost $2000 in each of those countries.
Fristrom does, however, say that getting a game out on a platform with the reach of the Xbox One is worth the cost. "Although we haven't gotten our first sales report yet, there were at least ten thousand entries on the leaderboards last we checked, so we've certainly covered our costs and made a living wage to boot--which is kind of rare in the indie game development world, in my experience--so I'm really happy we jumped aboard the ID@Xbox wagon."
Microsoft does have plans to make indie development even easier. Last year, the company announced that any Xbox One would eventually be able to act as a dev kit, and earlier in July Microsoft debunked rumors that this project was canceled. However, the company has given no official word on when this functionality will launch.