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Meet the Microsoft Game Developer Kit (GDK)

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Games have always been one of the most technically complex forms of media created. They are limited only by creators' imagination and their ability to translate that vision to reality through technology. We want to enable any creator, anywhere on the planet, to make games for our ecosystem. And, to help with that we've made the Microsoft Game Development Kit (GDK) available on GitHub, free of charge!

The GDK is the same base development kit used by hundreds of game creators today and was previously only available to approved partners building for the Xbox ecosystem. The GDK contains the common tools, libraries, and documentation needed for developers, it's the future of the Xbox ecosystem across all platforms—PC, cloud, mobile, and console.

By using the GDK, creators will get a head start on their game development based on a technical foundation that will also allow them to unlock functionalities to integrate with the Xbox ecosystem like commerce, achievements, multiplayer and more. Access to publish on the Xbox ecosystem of stores is still private, following common industry licensing practices. Completing the journey to publish a game to the Xbox store on Windows – directly or through the Game Pass program – involves applying to qualify for an Xbox partners program, signing a license agreement, and configuring gaming services. Interested creators can check out the ID@Xbox program for more information. 

Enabling creators of all shapes and sizes to create high quality games is core to our team. This entails delivering tools that developers can use to build games for multiple platforms on multiple engines including tools to create games, programs to help distribute games, services to monetize and commercialize games, and the power to retain, grow, and scale games. Learn more by checking out our recent Game Stack Live event.

Our mission is to democratize game development to generate a diverse, rich portfolio of content our gaming audiences will love, and to create opportunities for all communities to share their stories through games. Making the GDK publicly available is the first step in that journey. We invite you to try out the GDK, check out the documentation, and get started building games today on GitHub. 

Frequently Asked Questions​

Q: Do I still need to go through Microsoft to publish a game?

A: If you want to publish a game via the Xbox App Store or Xbox Game Pass on PC, cloud or console you'll need to sign an agreement with Microsoft. A great first step is to contact ID@Xbox for entry into our Xbox Developer Program. You can learn more at http://aka.ms/IDatXbox.​​

Q: What is the GDKX?

A: The GDKX is an add-on SDK to the GDK that exposes Xbox console specific API extensions. While many of these extensions are common to both Xbox One & Xbox Series X|S generations, some are console generation specific. Note that the GDK & GDKX do not support Xbox 360 development. The extensions are largely Graphics, Media, and Storage specific. All Xbox ecosystem integration points like commerce, community, and Multiplayer are available in the GDK and do not require the GDKX.

Q: Why is the GDK a binary release and not an open source release on GitHub?

A: We will continue to take steps towards making more of Xbox game development more open.  This is just an early step in that direction with a binary release of the installer to modernize how we distribute the software and enabling collaboration around source that is available (Xbox Live, PlayFab, and Game Development Samples). 


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