The announcement and release of the Xbox One was marked by consistently poor communication from Microsoft, with rumors and speculation running rampant and no clear statements from the console company. The bad blood that created this situation culminated in the reversal of the original Xbox One plan – instead of being an always-online console that allowed you to play games you owned on someone’s console and share them with your family members, it would be a conventional console with none of these Steam-like features.
One policy that used to be popular, however, was the promise that any Xbox One would be usable as a dev kit, allowing indie developers to use regular retail Xbox Ones to develop, debug, and test their own games. This was an important part of Microsoft’s effort to democratize indie development on Xbox One after criticism of the process it used for the Xbox 360.
But earlier today, even that plan appeared to be abandoned. Digital Spy reported that Martin Fuller of the Xbox Advanced Technology Group said in a Q&A session that it wouldn’t happen anyway, for reasons Fuller wasn’t sure of. “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 Fuller. “While that was a very admirable goal, it unfortunately didn’t happen in the end. I can’t tell you exactly why not. As far as I know there are no plans,” he added. “I’m not aware of why we failed to do that.”
Would this be another 180, after abandoning the original DRM plans and deciding to unbundle the Kinect?
No. Instead, it seems that Microsoft is once again not in full control of its own messaging. The company issued an official statement saying, “Today’s comments were inaccurate. We remain committed to providing the best possible solutions for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One. We will share more details at a later date.” So it seems that the ability to retail Xbox Ones as development units will become a reality at some point after all.
Of the two well-known Xbox One stories – bad communication and about turns – this time it’s the first, not the last. Why Microsoft continues to struggle to keep its plans straight remains an age-old question.