Xbox is one of the major competitors in the gaming console market. The platform is a perfect place to distribute your game because, as of December 2020, there are more than 100 million Xbox Live users around the globe.
However, publishing a game on Xbox One can be tricky. And it’s no wonder – Microsoft wants to control the quality of programs that appear in their store, protect each customer, and support each game developer. So, let’s learn more about the Xbox One game publishing process, the requirements you have to meet, and the tools you can use as a creator.
How to publish a game on Xbox One? Let’s take a closer look at the step-by-step process. For this description, we assume that you’re planning to publish a title for the Universal Windows Platform, or UWP. This is a way to publish a game to Xbox One and Windows 10, as well as certain mobile platforms.
The first step in publishing an Xbox One game is setting up an MSA, or the Microsoft Account. While this step is essential, you’ve most likely already performed it. If you have an Xbox Live, Office 365, or Outlook.com account – you already have an MSA.
However, having a Microsoft Account is not enough to publish a game across the Xbox One platform. To register an app title, you need to have the status of an App Developer. To register as a developer, you will have to pay a certain one-time fee. Its size depends on your location and whether the account you create will belong to you as an individual or will refer to a group (like a company).
The next step for those who are wondering how to publish an Xbox One game is to reserve the title for your game. This should be done as early as possible, even if your application is still in its concept stage. As the prompt will warn you, you should check whether the use of the name of your choice is limited by copyrights.
Now it’s time to integrate your game into the system by enabling the Xbox Live services for it. This is also the time to determine which platforms your game will be available on. It will also help to ensure that features common for Xbox One games are available for your application, including the cloud saves.
After this step, you’ll be able to publish your game files and edit them in the developer sandbox. It’s a detached private environment that will allow you to continue the game development, refinement, and testing without revealing the product to the public.
You can also directly set up the users who can access this hub and make changes to the application. This will make the development collaboration much easier and ensure the security of the developer portal.
During the next step in our instruction of how to publish a game on the Xbox One console, when the game is done and ready to be released, the program configuration will be moved from the development sandbox to the retail sandbox. While you’ll still be able to make changes and publish updates, they will be available to the general audience.
While the general steps of publishing a game to Xbox One remain the same, there are several paths you can take to achieve similar results. They include:
The Xbox Live Creators program provides a faster and less complex way to publish your game quickly. This is achieved by skipping the concept approval process. The games published this way also don’t require any certification.
Furthermore, the Creators Program provides the developers with certain tools that can assist in the creation process. If you own an Xbox One console, you can put it into the dev mode to design and publish the game directly through it.
Unfortunately, the Xbox Live Creators program has its downsides. Specifically, the games published this way are locked from multiplayer and achievement features, as Microsoft strives to curate the online experience. This is also why the games from the Creators Program are published in a separate section of the Xbox Game Store.
ID@Xbox is more of a standard way to publish your game to the console. You will have to wait longer for the concept approval from the official Microsoft sources, and you will have to conduct the licensing process on your own. However, you will have full access to Xbox Live features, including multiplayer, achievements, and the place in the general Xbox store with the standard discovery tools.
Unfortunately, if you use the ID@Xbox program, you won’t be able to take advantage of the development tools provided to the developers in the Live Creators program. You will have to use the more common tools compatible with the platform.
However, there is another advantage to using ID@Xbox that rarely gets mentioned. Namely, through this program, you’ll get the premium developer support feature from Microsoft. It will be easier for you to resolve any issues and pitfalls you might encounter during the development.
This can be considered the easiest way to publish a game on Xbox One, yet the hardest one in terms of setting up. It is only available to third-party publishers that have a partnership with Microsoft.
Managed partners can directly post games to the Xbox Live store. Furthermore, they can access the Xbox Game Development portal to access development tools and guides on how to use them.
Furthermore, the managed partners usually have a dedicated Microsoft representative they can contact at any time to get their questions answered. All in all, this is a perfect way to publish a game – yet it is challenging to achieve partner status with Microsoft.
|Xbox Live Creators||ID@Xbox||Managed Partners|
|Access to Development Tools||Yes||No||Yes|
The question of how much does it cost to publish a game on Xbox One is a loaded one. Multiple factors impact the final budget. So, let’s review the most important ones:
- One of the first things you will have to pay for during the game publishing process is the Microsoft Developer Account. Setting it up requires a one-time fee that can vary depending on your location and whether the account you’re creating is meant for an individual or as a company account;
- If you’re not using the Xbox Live Creators program, the next thing you need to consider is E&O insurance. This type of insurance will come in handy if you’ve accidentally broken the copyright law by using someone’s assets without their permission;
- Another thing that does not apply to Xbox Live Creators developers is the cost of ratings from different rating boards. Depending on where you plan to make your game available, you might have to contact several rating boards (like PEGI for Europe, ESRB for the US and Canada, etc.).
Besides, there are multiple other costs, like various language localizations, maintenance fees, and more. Overall, publishing a game can be rather expensive.
Pingle Studio is an experienced game development studio with dozens of co-development, optimization, and porting projects behind our belt. We’ve assisted in preparing numerous projects for simultaneous multi-console launches, and we’ve had practice with working with next-gen consoles as well.
Among others, we’ve helped to release Elden Souls for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, and PC on the same day. With the lack of information about the next-gen consoles at the time, we’ve used trial and error to eliminate all the porting-related bugs and have managed to achieve smooth optimized gameplay on each of the platforms.
Another example of a successful multi-platform launch we’ve assisted with is Lost Ember. Developers at Pingle Studio worked on porting and optimizing the PC version of the game for Xbox One and PS4 at the same time, and managed to achieve great performance on both, doing justice to the beautiful world of the game.
All in all, if you need help preparing your game for publishing or porting and optimizing it for multiple platforms, we at Pingle Studio are ready to assist you! Contact us to get an estimation of your project and discuss the details of our potential cooperation.
Publishing a game on Xbox One is a complex and challenging process, with several branching paths. It can be especially confusing if you’re new to the process. If you need any help with the Xbox One game publishing process, contact us at Pingle Studio for assistance.