Xbox will pay game developers to release demos

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Xbox unveiled Project Moorcraft, an initiative to boost the demos available on Game pass while helping developers make money.

This month, game developers and fans typically flock to E3 Expo to see the latest game reveals and platform updates and get their hands on early previews of upcoming titles.

E3 has been put on hold during the pandemic and all of the game’s major players have moved to virtual events for their big reveals. Unfortunately, that meant queuing in big, sweaty queues for an often relatively brief hands-on demonstration was a nostalgic memory (I’m probably not very good at it…)

The Moorcraft project aims to bring the excitement of the E3 demos to gamers’ living rooms.

“We said, you know what, why not take Game Pass and make it like the showfloor?” said Sarah Bond, vice president of Game Creator Experience and Ecosystem at Xbox, during a press conference.

“Why don’t we allow developers to take a piece – a level of their game – and release it to Game Pass, generate excitement for what’s to come, and also get this really valuable feedback? while they adjust and prepare their game for launch?”

Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, asked why a developer should bother going down this route instead of working on their game.

“As part of that, we’ve put the program together and structured it so that the developers get financial compensation – it actually benefits them financially – and they benefit from the feedback as well,” Bond replied.

Just to add, there is also the benefit of the hype a demo can generate. Players who wouldn’t even be able to try the game otherwise can at least give it a try, risk-free.

A big question to answer is exactly how much developers will be paid – we assume this will be performance based, but how much to expect per install is quite important.

Other questions include whether developers will have to commit to releasing their full games on Game Pass, how strict the application process will be, and what kind of marketing assistance Microsoft will provide to entrants.

However, pending those details, it’s an interesting scheme that could prove a win for developers, gamers, and Microsoft itself. Smaller game developers without big marketing budgets could benefit the most from the initiative.

With over 25 million subscribers across PC, console, and cloud, Game Pass has already been a smash hit.

Microsoft says Game Pass subscribers play 40% more titles, explore 30% more genres after joining, and spend 50% more on average. Indie developers are said to enjoy a 300% growth in revenue – split between 190% in participation and bonus payments for being part of the program, and 110% via add-ons and in-game revenue.

The Moorcraft project seeks to build on this success.

(Image credit: Xbox)

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Key words: game development, game pass, game, moorcraft project, xbox

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