Developing new games for Microsoft’s Xbox One console is about to get much easier. During today’s Build 16 conference, Microsoft announced it will soon offer a software update that will turn any Xbox One into a full development kit. Previously, dev-ready Xbox Ones were provided on a limited basis. This change will make the full Xbox One development kit available to all Xbox One owners.
This move is taking place as part of Microsoft’s strategy to bring Windows 10 to multiple platforms, including computers, tablets, phones, and Xbox consoles. Dev kits are already made easily available for these other platforms, so it seemed like the right time for the Xbox One to fall in line.
This change should give a real boost to independent game developers. Under the limited distribution system previously offered by Microsoft, some Xbox One developer kits were made available to independent developers. But kits were usually made more readily available to larger AAA-level game developers. Turning all Xbox Ones into dev-ready kits levels the playing field and also opens up the process to hobbyists and others who want to learn more about game development. (It was possible to unlock some of the Xbox One developer kit prior to this update. That process wasn’t officially supported by Microsoft and it didn’t grant access to the full kit.)
The new Xbox One development kit is currently available as a free preview. It will be officially released this summer and will require a $19 fee along with a Microsoft Dev Center account.