Microsoft's ID@Xbox program for Xbox One is in many ways a step up from the requirements attached to publishing independent games on Xbox 360. But it's got a clause that's going to be a problem, both for developers and for us gamers.
Microsoft wants day-one parity with other console game platforms, though it says it'll work with devs who have already signed a timed exclusive with another platform on a case-by-case basis. This has led to Vlambeer setting up timed exclusivity with PlayStation 4 for its upcoming Nuclear Throne in order to have the ability to self-publish on Xbox One. A smart move on the studio's part, sure, but one that shouldn't be necessary.
Another game, Assault Android Cactus, is unable to meet the ID@Xbox demands and won't release for the platform as a result. "We started development on our other console versions long before self-publishing was an option for Xbox One and the only way we could meet that requirement would be to delay the other versions of Cactus," developer Witch Beam's Sanatana Mishra told Eurogamer. "We also didn't have an exclusivity agreement in place with another console platform before the ID@Xbox program was announced, which could have allowed us to get a waiver."
Even with the program's requirements made clear for all to see, this is still going to be a problem for smaller studios, particularly those who lack the sheer manpower to work on multiple versions of their game simultaneously. Making games isn't easy, and this ID@Xbox stuff isn't making it any easier. Perhaps Microsoft can be convinced to change the day-one parity clause. Otherwise, it's going to miss out on great titles.