Sarah Bond, VP of Corporate Affairs at Xbox, promises that gamers will have “10 more years” of indie titles from the Microsoft ID@Xbox program.
The ID@Xbox program has helped people around the world enjoy smaller studio titles by offering their games a platform for Xbox Series X|S, PC and Xbox Game Pass. Nor was the program a symbolic effort by Microsoft.
I sat down with Bond to discuss Xbox’s plans for indie titles in the future. “It’s been 10 years of ID@Xbox, we’ve paid four billion dollars to independent developers in those 10 years. We have 5,000 creators in the program and 700 have even joined in the last 12 months.” To put that number into perspective, that’s four times the budget rumors Hello Infinity (by GameRant).
Bond sees Xbox’s involvement in indie games as “necessary”. “You know, 70% of people under the age of 25 would rather play a game than any other form of media. What do we want them to play?… I want them to have the opportunity to experience things that they would never otherwise have.”
The Vice President discussed the successes of Tunic AND Vampire survivors, both of which were created with ID@Xbox. “Every year… some massive game emerges from an indie development studio… which basically [takes] through the lives of many people.” She continued: “[indie games are] is an important investment for us because we see so much innovation from there, but it is also where we see the most opportunities for new voices, perspectives and talent.”
Bond also described a new program in the works that would allow independent developers to “prototype their games and get real-time feedback while learning.” Developer acceleration program (opens in a new tab) is a new aspect of ID@Xbox that was unveiled last week and is specifically tailored to help marginalized developers.
Independent game development can often be a challenge, especially for people from marginalized communities who don’t have access to resources and technology. Xbox’s commitment to this is definitely a step in the right direction.
The VP wanted to point out that she also felt Xbox was culturally committed to “underrepresented” groups. “We developed the so-called [ID@Xbox] program to help creators who are currently under-represented in the industry or who are respectfully building stories around groups that are currently under-represented in the industry.”
Xbox is certainly betting a lot of its chips on smaller studios. When I asked why that was, Bond replied, “I think independent developers are, in some ways, the source of most of the innovation in our industry. If you think about it, every major studio today started out as an indie studio.
History certainly agrees with Bond’s assessment, since world-renowned classics such as Fortnite AND PUBG: Battlefields came from relatively small beginnings. Even Bungie, the original developers Halohad humble origin (opens in a new tab)starting as a University of Chicago student’s favorite project in 1991.
Xbox is right to continue its emphasis on indie games. Who knows what hidden treasures and unforgettable experiences will be discovered in the next 10 years? Bond certainly seemed confident, stating that “the best is yet to come”.