In an effort to get indie developers to make Wii U games, Nintendo offered free development tools, like a Unity license, in exchange for games. Now Microsoft’s indie program – ID@Xbox – is offering the same deal.
Unity CEO David Helgason announced today that Microsoft has reached an agreement with the indie friendly engine to offer free Unity licenses to all members of its ID@Xbox program. In other words, indie developers who join Microsoft’s indie development program will get a free Unity license to use in developing indie titles for the Xbox One.
Here’s the relevant part of the announcement:
Unity and Microsoft will now be working together to bring the Xbox One deployment add-on to all developers registered with the ID@Xbox program at no cost to the developers. This is huge news and means that everyone that’s part of that program, not just partners to Microsoft Games Studios, will be able to take advantage of Unity to create awesome gaming experiences for the Xbox One. On top of this, a special Xbox One version of the Unity Pro tools are also being made available for these same developers at no cost.
The Xbox One is a powerful platform and we’re building powerful tools to take advantage of all of the features that make it so special like the Kinect and SmartGlass. Production is well underway and is progressing faster than originally anticipated! Very early testing phases will begin soon with a broader beta program in 2014.
It should be noted that the free Unity license will come in two forms. If you already have a Unity license for another platform, like Android, then the Xbox One license will be unlocked on your account upon your admission into the ID@Xbox program. If this is your first Unity license, you will be given an Xbox One-only license, and all other licenses for other platforms will be sold at a comparatively low cost like usual.
It’s actually the latter license agreement that’s actually the most exciting for developers. Unity is a great cross platform engine, but developers do have to buy licenses for platform-specific tools. By releasing on Xbox One first, the developers may earn the money necessary to purchase the other licenses and port their titles to other platforms, like iOS, Android and other home consoles.
The ID@Xbox self-publishing program on Xbox One is not yet live, but you can apply to be admitted into the program right now. Microsoft is currently giving preferential treatment to developers who have shipped a game, but it will open the program to anybody who has an Xbox One in the future. At that point, the free Unity license will come in handy for the thousands, if not millions, of gamers who want to dip their toe in the waters of game development.