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Developers 'asking for Xbox Early Access programme'

Microsoft "listening really closely" to requests from game makers

Multiple developers have asked Microsoft to introduce a Steam-like Early Access programme for Xbox games, according to ID@Xbox director Chris Charla.

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Charla, Microsoft's point-of-contact for indie developers, told Develop that the company was paying close attention to requests from game makers.

"Right now on Xbox One and Xbox 360, you can do betas," he said. "A lot of games do, and some games do private betas. When we talk about early access, it typically means a game that you buy and it evolves over time to become 1.0, so you're buying it before it's 1.0 - Minecraft on PC is a perfect example.

"It's something developers have been asking for, and we are listening really closely to developers, but I don't have anything to announce on that right now."

Steam Early Access launched in March 2013 and allows customers to buy games while they're still being developed, meaning products can be completed with the community's involvement.

Players can download the most up-to-date playable form of the game with the knowledge that it isn't the final product and may contain numerous glitches, bugs and unfinished elements.

Sony is considering introducing a Steam-like Early Access programme on PlayStation platforms, VP of publisher and developer relations Adam Boyes said last week.

However, both Sony and Microsoft say there are challenges to overcome with such programmes. Neither company wants their digital marketplace to be flooded with broken games that may never see a full release.

"It's a really interesting issue with digital marketplaces, and it's something our store and marketplace team think about all the time," Charla said. "There's a lot of heavy deep thinkers, experts, PhDs working on these problems at Xbox every day - not just for the Xbox store, but for Windows Store and Windows Phone. Our goal is to have a rational marketplace, where good games are visible and sell well."

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