Self-publishing your game with ID@Xbox
The ID@Xbox team is committed to helping developers connect with a vast, global audience. Learn more about how to get started and how to ensure success.
We get the question all the time: "How can our studio be successful on Xbox?" Our mission at ID@Xbox is to open this path to qualified game creators around the world. Since its inception, the program has championed over 5,000 studios from 100 countries, helping them release over 3,000 unique titles. To date, over $4 billion has been paid out in royalties to developers who publish through ID@Xbox.
The directive that drives us is player choice. We aim to empower players to play the Xbox games they want, with the people they want, anywhere they want. With the help of developers like you, we bring them diverse, imaginative world-class experiences that speak to them, regardless of whether they play on console, PC, mobile, or over the cloud.
This week, at the Montreal International Game Summit, I had the chance to speak to a room full of enthusiastic independent developers about how to join the ID@Xbox program and how to ensure that their game stands out from the crowd.
Your journey with ID@Xbox begins by registering on our site: www.xbox.com/id.
Once you're signed up, our dedicated team will set you up with an NDA, and you'll submit your game concept for review by our Portfolio team. After you attain approval, you'll begin the work of getting your game ready to release on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC and Cloud, as well as working through the certification process. Our Development Support and Certification teams will help you accomplish these critical steps. Once your game is ported and certified, you'll enlist the help of our Marketing teams to get your game on our storefronts. You may have noticed that there's support for every step of the process. That's deliberate. We want to make this process transparent, with assistance and visibility built into each phase of the process. Get started today!
Succeeding on Xbox
While there's no foolproof formula to guarantee success on Xbox, we've observed plenty of best practices over the years that should boost your team's chances. Below are some considerations to keep in mind.
Optimal Launch Timing
Timing is key, and it's even more critical for studios with modest resources. With that in mind, the period from September to November is crowded when it comes to releases, making it challenging for new titles to stand out. If it's possible, we advise ID@ Xbox developers to try to avoid those months. Conversely, to optimize your game's visibility, consider launching on a Friday. This positions your game advantageously in the "New Releases" section over the weekend, when player engagement peaks.
Impactful Box Art
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so ensure that your artwork is eye-catching and discernible even from 6 feet away. You should also be intentional about what's on your box art, as distasteful or off-putting imagery can deter potential players.
Timing the pre-order phase is crucial. Set up your game in the "Coming Soon" channel early enough to build anticipation and secure early sales, but not so early that players lose interest before release. Our Store and Marketing teams can provide guidance on these strategies.
Pricing and Discounting
Deciding on the pricing of your game is a complex endeavor, but one thing we've learned is that it's always wise to be wary of launch day discounts, as we’ve found that gamers find bonus day one content far more valuable than a modest launch discount. You should plan your discounting strategy as a whole with care. While some gamers keep an eye out for discounts on titles they’re tracking, the primary value of discounts is the increased visibility they give to a game in the post-launch period.
Regular, modest discounts help keep your game in front of customers and motivate sales, while very deep discounts can erode the perceived value of your game. Discounts are also far more effective than “price waterfalling” (i.e. permanently reducing the price of your game) as the latter doesn’t come with any incremental visibility. You should only do a permanent price cut late in the game’s lifecycle.
It can be advantageous to plan discounts during sales events on the Xbox store. Be sure to remain in touch with our Marketing team and schedule your discounts accordingly. You can get a significant boost if your game aligns with one of the themed sales we frequently run in the store.
Leveraging Xbox Promotional Tools
Our vast array of promotional tools and channels are here to help you get your game in front of more players. In addition to social media channels on YouTube and Twitter, ID@Xbox developers also have access to Xbox Wire, the official blog for all things Xbox. Xbox Wire regularly features articles penned by ID@Xbox partners, offering them a chance to connect directly with audiences and talk about them about their games.
Whether it's a promotional stream with the ID@Xbox, developer-authored features in Xbox Wire, or promotional support across the vast spectrum of Xbox channels, you can leverage Xbox's robust promotional capacity to help amplify your game's reach.
Pitching Your Game
Xbox is always on the lookout for great games, so if you feel that a more conventional publishing arrangement makes sense for your studio, we're always open to pitches. Detailed below are some of the things we look for in a successful pitch.
Introduce Your Team
We want to know who you are, your team dynamics, and what drives you to create. Share your story and give us a peek into your studio's soul!
Showcase Your History
What's your track record? We're curious about what you've built before and how that has shaped your current project.
Dive deep into your game--its premise, scope, mechanics, the engine powering it, and how it compares to games like it currently in the market.
Include images, videos, mood boards, concept art, or gameplay footage that captures your game's essence.
Clarity is key, so lay out your production budget, funding sources, and a cost breakdown. This transparency helps us understand what it'll take to bring your vision to life.
Go into detail about how your game will be monetized and detail any post-release content plans and how you envision sustaining your game's life cycle.
Map out your production timeline, the platforms you're targeting, and any post-launch plans you have in the pipeline.
Developer Acceleration Program
Earlier this year, we kicked off the Developer Acceleration Program, which aims to empower developers from underrepresented communities by providing the essential resources and information they need to bring their creativity, innovation, and originality to Xbox. For a full breakdown of the program, check out this blog post from ID@Xbox Program Manager Annette Gonzalez. The Developer Acceleration Program is designed to help in three key areas:
Launching a game on multiple platforms is a challenge and requires a big investment. To help new developers deliver their content to as many players as possible, we offer non-recoupable funding for porting to Xbox platforms. We also help you with go-to-market strategies, allowing you to leverage our channels during the crucial periods leading up to launch.
Program partners also gain access to resources and information through a variety of engagement events, like our ID@Xbox Green Room live virtual event series, where Xbox leaders speak on a range topics, and host live Q&A sessions.
Aimed at promising developers from underrepresented communities early in development, the Prototype offers non-recoupable funding to help developers get their innovative ideas off the ground.
Benefits of Game Pass for ID@Xbox Developers
Xbox Game Pass is a critical component to our partners' success on Xbox, with a variety of SKUs tailored to meet the specific needs and preferences of different types of gamers. It's immensely effective at both providing value to our players, and a huge, eager audience for developers.
The proof is in the numbers. Games from ID@Xbox developers on Game Pass reach 15 times the Daily Active User count in their first 90 days versus comparable titles that release on Xbox. If you’re interested in bringing your game to Game Pass, we’re happy to provide you with more information about the program and how to apply.
At ID@Xbox, we're committed to helping you connect with a vast, global audience. As you join over 5,000 studios in our family, we’re ready to support your journey with every resource at our disposal--from funding to frontline promotion. We're eager to help you find a home for your game on Xbox. Get in touch at http://www.xbox.com/id and let's get started.