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How do I get my app / game on Xbox One?
by Dave Voyles on 02/06/14 06:28:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.



I get asked this question a lot. TLDRBelieve me when I tell you, the path to least resistance is to write a game using Unity, and bring it to Windows 8.


Microsoft has partnered with Unity to make the process for going from Windows 8 to Xbox One as seamless as possible, as stated by this official announcement from the ID@Xbox team. 

"To us, ID@Xbox is about providing a level playing field for all developers. So, we worked with Unity and we’re pleased to announce that, when released in 2014, the Xbox One add-on for Unity will be available at no cost to all developers in the ID@Xbox program, as will special Xbox One-only Unity Pro seat licenses for Xbox One developers in the ID@Xbox program."    - Chris Charla, Director, ID@Xbox

Rather than wait for Microsoft to unlock Xbox One units and turn them into dev kits, just get started on making a Windows 8 game in Unity. Think about it: Your game is immediately more attractive to Microsoft the moment you use an engine that can be ported to three of their platforms: Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Xbox One.

Need a hand? Get in touch with me -- It's my job to help! 


Now we're talking my language! Alternatively, you could use HTML5 for apps. (Notice how I didn't say anything about games in there?) From a Gamasutra article in September 2013, Microsoft's EVP of operating systems Terry Myerson stated:

"We want to offer [developers] the opportunity to build either HTML5 applications, or native applications that span all of those devices, enabling them to reach segments of users on those devices, users on a gaming console, and provide them with very unique opportunities to monetize their application investments," he explained as part of today's Microsoft Nokia Transaction Conference Call. And this includes allowing for HTML5 and native applications across all the company's devices, including smartphones, tablets, and the upcoming Xbox One.                                                 - Mike Rose, Gamasutra

C++ / DirectX 11

Maybe C++ is your thing. In that case, you can use the C++ / DirectX Stack to get your game on Xbox One. Chuck Walbourn and Shawn Hargreaves have been doing a phenomonal job of updating this code base each week, and you can download it right now to get started. This is basically the C++ version of XNA, so if you are familiar with XNA, you'll find that it's very similar.

What do you know: I even put together a Power Point presentation that I share with schools, to get students on board as well. Here is a link to that. I update it from time to time as well, so check back on occasion.  View the presentation here. 

Icing on the cake

Think of new and innovative ways to take advantage of the tech that Windows 8 and Xbox One offer. What about creating a second screen experience? Something where you take the role of a Dungeon Master in in Dungeons and Dragons using SmartGlass, and your friends are using gamepads on the main screen to control their characters. What if the second screen device was an alternative controller for selecting media and playing it on the Win8 / Xbox device? Think outside of the box and it it will grab Microsoft's attention.

I'll also be on Scott Hanselman's Hanselminutes podcast tomorrow, where I'll be talking more in depth about Xbox One development, so be sure to follow along there as well. How do I know all of this? Well I was writing Xbox One and SmartGlass stuff at Comcast, but I also work at Microsoft. Everything listed above though, is publicly available information, so you're not going to find anything new here; I simply organize it for you. So I thought I'd write down all of the publicly known possibilities.

If you'd like some more information, leave a note below and I'll see what I can do for you.

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Maximinus Romain
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Hi Dave, interesting piece of info you have here. It all sounds great, but really, the 100.000$ question we're all waiting for is when will we be able to develop and publish with the retail units? Bonus questions : what will the marketplace look like? Will Microsoft improve their support and promotion from their dismal effort with XBLIG?


Benjamin Quintero
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I think Microsoft pretty much ran away screaming from XBLIG. I dont think you are going to see much here. But I sure hope Im wrong. ID is probably as close as it gets to supporting small developers.

Dave Voyles
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I don't think we're ever going to see something like XBLIG again. An uncuratd marketplace is difficult to manage, and expensive.

At this point, it looks like Microsoft is shooting for a curated marketplace, where you'll likely need approval before getting onto the marketplace. I guess it's XBLA for Xbox One?

With that in mind, I think that the promotion model will mimic that of XBLA.

Sadly, the days of a completely open marketplace on consoles is probably gone. Again, this is all just my own personal hunch. From a legal and financial standpoint, it's difficult to justify an open marketplace.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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XBLIG had issues. You had to use XNA. You had to charge $1-5 and no higher. It was made for the lowest tier of development, newbies and nobodies.

If XNA was linked to their "Games for Windows" and allowed more than a $5 price, it could have been more of a success. They mainly just wanted $5++ games to use XBLA. XBLA is probably a huge undertaking for developers.

And I dunno what you guys mean by open. What's the difference between an XBLIG and a AAA++ game? They both have violence, they both have women in bikinis... Doesn't Apple and Google have an open marketplace? They seem to make bank.

Dave Voyles
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"They seem to make bank."

For Apple or Google, sure, but not so much for the developers. It's a complete crap shoot out there. Release your game, and pray that someone sees it, otherwise it gets lost in the shuffle.

Case in point: The top 10 list right now is filled with 6 Flappy Bird games. (I know that XBLIG isn't much better)

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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There's a bazillion games on every platform. There's also a bazillions players at this point.

What you're saying is, all you want is a 300++ female team to make you the perfect game about fashion and hair cuts. And that's the only type of game you want to see on the market.

The market, however, says it wants these little crappy games made by one male in some random country.

Let's take the Wii U for example. They say it won't sell at all. Even though it's sold more than PS4/XBONE. Do you think it's good for developers if there's only a few high quality games, a few medium quality games, and a few lower quality games? Or would Nintendo, developers, and customers all get what they wanted if any developer could release their games on the platform?

Benjamin Quintero
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Great article Dave!

Shahed Chowdhuri
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Nice article, Dave! Thanks for mentioning both my site ( and Xbox One Indie Devs group on FB! 8-)

OnekSoft Games/Labs