The developers of even the slightly successful PC game often hear the question “When will your game be available on consoles?”. The porting process is time-consuming not just development-wise, but also because of a lot of legal stuff to deal with. In this article, we want to use our porting experience to share some tips on porting a PC game to console. Following these tips may accelerate your process of porting a video game from PC to consoles pretty solidly.
The necessary condition of any porting from PC to console is an access to devkit.
Devkit is an installable package of all the software and hardware you need to develop a console game. You’ll need access to devkit or your own devkit to publish a game on PlayStation Store. There are two general ways game developers interact with devkits:
Option #1 — making a deal with the publisher.
Publishers often provide developers with the devkits or at least remote access to the devkits via their publishing accounts. This is a good option if you’re developing your first console title, and especially if you already have a project — you get the hardware, SDKs, and access to the necessary documentation without having to buy and certify for your own devkit. But if you plan to develop more than one console title, it may bring problems. In this case, you have to care about where to get the devkit for every game you’re working with.
Option #2 — buying your own devkit.
Owning a devkit allows you to develop games for a console as long as it’s supported by a console development company. In order to get one, you’ll have to apply for the development program. Application forms are usually very detailed and companies often update them, so stay tuned with the latest changes.
If you’re planning to work with the physical copy of the devkit, mind the time for delivering it. Companies are very strict in terms of delivering devkits, especially to the post-Soviet countries.
After you have a devkit, you get access to the closed networks, necessary documentation and will be able to download SDKs for compiling apps.
We recommend having at least 2 devkits for every console you’re working with, no matter if it’s Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo Switch. If you only have one devkit and it’s broken, you’re at risk of spending a lot of unnecessary time dealing with warranty services, which are also very strict. And remember: you can’t publish your console port without access to a fully functional devkit.
Microsoft has a great supporting initiative for developers. If you have an alpha version with good presentation materials for your first Xbox title, you can apply for the Independent Developers Program. If your game is approved there, you get access to Microsoft subsystems and two Xbox devkits for free.