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Speaking at the Games Developer Conference 2023, GDC for short, ID@Xbox Director Chris Charla reflected on where Microsoft’s indie publishing program started ten years ago, how it progressed through the last decade, and where it’s headed in the future.

ID@Xbox was a reaction to GDC 2013 when Microsoft realized it couldn’t keep up with the fast development of the indie gaming scene and was publicly criticized for its efforts in that space. Months later the company revealed ID@Xbox at Gamescom 2013 after frantically changing the program’s name three times in the week ahead of release, Charla said.

He claimed that ID@Xbox helped over 3,000 games from independent developers to be released on Xbox over the last decade, while over 5,000 developers were onboarded into the program. In that timeframe indie devs received more than $4 billion from Microsoft – for reference, that’s like 5.8% of what Microsoft is willing to dish out to acquire Activision Blizzard in a single transaction.

ID@Xbox does a lot of things to help indie devs get their games off the ground on Xbox and has changed a lot in that decade since its inception thanks to feedback by those developers. Things like the early access program, cross-play and cross-progression support, and even a very new program that allows indie developers to order physical disc production for their games for retail sales have been created due to this close cooperation between Microsoft and the developers.

Naturally, Xbox Game Pass has become an important part of this ecosystem recently as well. Charla said that Microsoft had so many meetings with interested developers scheduled for GDC that it ran out of space for the bookings. To make getting into contact with the program easier in the future even if developers don’t have a contact at Xbox, ID@Xbox will launch a new template process soon to streamline things.

Another new initiative announced at GDC 2023 is the ID@Xbox Developer Acceleration Program – its purpose is to empower underrepresented developers. The program will fund the porting of games to more platforms, offer monthly webinars to better inform developers on different topics and provide a safe networking space, and finally provide funding and resources for a small number of promising developers to support them in creating prototypes of their video games.

Microsoft has actually been running a less structured version of this program since 2019, which only included the porting support aspect, and helped 100 indie devs bring their games to Xbox, including Onsen Master, ValiDate, and Paper Ghost Stories 7PM.

All of these changes and improvements have one goal: Make sure that Xbox has as broad a variety of games to offer as possible.