gamescom 2015

Microsoft Will Bring First Party Titles To Xbox One Game Preview

by Mike Futter on Aug 05, 2015 at 06:01 AM

If you're looking forward to Microsoft's big 2016 lineup (and beyond), you may be surprised to find out that you might not need to wait for those games to release. Microsoft confirms to us that it will begin using the Game Preview program for its in-house games.

The early access-style program launched at E3 with Frontier Development's Elite Dangerous and Hinterland Studio's The Long Dark. This week, Unicube's Sheltered joined Game Preview, with Compulsion's We Happy Few on the way.

We spoke with Microsoft Studios Global Publishing general manager Shannon Loftis about the program, to find out how the company plans to evolve it. "First party will be using Game Preview for our games," Loftis tells us. "It's not 100 percent. It's very much developer choice, but it is definitely an option."

Loftis also explained how Microsoft is choosing games for the Game Preview initiative, and how it is learning from other, similar efforts. "We are curating that program," she says. "We're curating it very much with an eye for making sure that the games are high-quality games. A lot of the issues we've seen with the folks that tried this sort of service earlier have seen, are things that we've been able to learn from. There is a little bit of extrapolation that the gamer has to make in order to guess that the end product is good. So far, nothing has backfired as far as gamer reception, but we are being very cautious."

Loftis speculated on what would happen if a Game Preview title failed to reach release. "In our curation process, we look for a commitment to bring the game to market," she says. "I know that even our most careful planning can't account for every potential outcome."

While curation can certainly help identify games unlikely to reach market or at risk of failure, most developers would state an intention for their games to find fruition. Loftis suspects that Microsoft would leverage its resource to assist developers in peril of failing to fully release a Game Preview project.

"What I'm about to say is more speculative, and not fact or policy. I think that if we had a game that were popular in Game Preview and somehow it became a reality that the game would have a hard time finishing, I think we would work with that developer to make sure the game does get finished," she posits. "We have so many ways for developers to engage with us, between our third-party program, our ID@Xbox program, we have a group specifically about outreach, and my own team. I think it's important for us to engage. It's very important for us to deliver our promises."