Update 2: In a second statement released to Kotaku today, Xbox Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten confirmed an earlier report by Game Informer that while all Xbox Ones will have the ability to be converted into debug units, this functionality will not be immediately available when the console launches later this year. The feature will be made available at a late date.
Update: Speaking with Kotaku, Microsoft has confirmed earlier reports regarding its move to allow independent self-publishing in a statement issued by Whitten.
“Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox LIVE. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox LIVE. We’ll have more details on the program and the timeline at gamescom in August.”
As of 12:30 PM, Eastern time, Game Informer reports that Microsoft may be planning to announce indie self-publishing along with a new certification process. Game Informer News Editor Mike Futter cites multiple sources that indicate Microsoft will be reversing its controversial publishing policies, allowing smaller developers to self-publish. Futter notes that developers will be able to set their own release dates and pricing, as well.
Further, Microsoft might be looking to modify its certification process, moving to a 14-day turnaround for approvals, and paring down the evaluation process to focus more on terms of service violations and significant bugs, rather than deep code checking. This process change could potentially re-engage many developers like Supergiant Games, Oddworld Inhabitants, Just Add Water and Klei Entertainment.
Additional reports indicate that every Xbox One unit could be converted to a debug console via hardware authorization from Microsoft. This would dramatically simplify development for the console, as developers would not need special hardware in order to test games.