There have been headlines flying all over the place in the last hour or so about Microsoft supposedly going back on its previous promise to turn every Xbox One into a development kit.
It's not true, the company said in a statement.
“The comments today were inaccurate," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "We remain committed to ensuring the best possible solutions for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One. We will share more details at a later date.”
Digital Spy "broke" the news from the Develop conference currently happening in the UK.
"We were, in the early stages of Xbox One, looking at the idea of a retail kit that could be turned into a development kit, and vice versa," said Xbox Advanced Technology Group's Martin Fuller during a Q&A session. "In the end, although that was a very admirable goal, it hasn't happened unfortunately. Can't tell you the specifics of exactly why not. [...] "As far as I'm aware there are no plans. I'm not aware of the reason why we didn't manage to do that."
There are enormous red flags that reek of executive miscommunication here.
One, this happened during the Q&A, which means it wasn't part of Fuller's formal presentation, and he's speaking off-the-cuff. Should he be more informed about his company's policies? Probably, sure. But when Fuller says he's "not aware of the reason why we didn't manage to do that," that should sound some alarm bells, at least enough to send a simple email to Microsoft for press not liveblogging an event in real-time.
Even worse, Microsoft commented on the development kit situation yesterday at Develop, based on a report from Gamasutra.
"We have said that anyone will be able to use retail Xbox Ones to develop games," said head of ID@Xbox Chris Charla. "We're not there yet, so we need to send custom dev kits."
As much as we'd love more companies to speak honestly, what happened next across a great many websites is why we don't see more of it. It doesn't help, of course, that several Microsoft executives are seemingly terrible at speaking openly, and it's hard to blame the press for wanting to report what a Microsoft executive says in public.
Still, a little caution--we had to wait less than two hours--would have save some headaches. Now, I'm faced with running stories like this, in which I have to consider publishing a news story to disprove a non-story?!
Microsoft's statement doesn't provide any clarity beyond reaffirming the company's previously announced plans, though. We still don't know when the switch will be flipped on retail Xbox One boxes.
As it stands, console game development has traditionally relied on developers acquiring pricey development kits. Granted, both Microsoft and Sony have freely loaned out developments kits for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to kickstart independent development on both platforms, but that's not tenable long term. Kits potentially exclude hobbyist developers who are just getting started, and Microsoft's plan could open doors for many.