Chris Charla, Director of ID@Xbox, shares some news for Xbox Developers and gamers at GDC 2017. Check it out below:

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I love the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. I just love it; the games, the people, the energy – GDC is one of the things that just makes you feel great about being in the game industry. It means so much to me personally, and also professionally as a proud member of Team Xbox.

For the Xbox team, GDC is among the best times to highlight new games – and there are some awesome new titles coming this year to Xbox One and Windows 10 PC through ID@Xbox – and it’s also a great place to catch up with new developers and old friends, listen to their feedback about all corners of Xbox, and also share a few pieces of news we hope fans will enjoy.

We have a few major developments to announce at GDC that bring new opportunities for game creators and awesome updates for players – and here’s how.

Introducing the Xbox Live Creators Program

Xbox is kicking off things this year by announcing the Xbox Live Creators Program, which empowers anyone to rapidly publish Xbox Live-enabled games on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, in a totally open way. With the Creators Program, anyone can integrate Xbox Live sign-in, presence, and social features into their UWP games, then publish their game to Xbox One and Windows 10. This means their title can see exposure to every Xbox One owner across the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio this holiday, as well as hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs, and millions of folks using the Xbox app on mobile platforms.

The Creators Program offers a straightforward way for developers to address a huge audience across Windows and Xbox One, with minimal additional development time. An important element is that developers can continue using the tools they’re already using today to create UWP games. Game engines with “out of the box” support for UWP games include Construct 2, MonoGame, Unity, and Xenko. The program works with retail Xbox One consoles, so you won’t need a dev kit to get started. For developers who want access to more Xbox Live capabilities and to gain additional development and marketing support for their game, they can enroll in the ID@Xbox program – even after their game ships.

On Windows 10 PC, games from the Creators Program will be available in the Windows Store. Xbox One offers players a more curated store experience, so games from the Creators Program will appear in a new, distinct Creators games section in the Store. This gives the best of both worlds – the curated store experience console players know and expect, and the opportunities that a totally open store experience offers as well. I’m stoked to see what developers create and offer the Xbox community with the Xbox Live Creators Program!

Starting today, we encourage developers to download and start using the Xbox Live Creators SDK at https://developer.microsoft.com/games/xbox/xboxlive/creator, where they can learn all the details of the program. The Creators Program is currently in preview, so the program will pilot with a select group of developers initially. We will be opening store publishing submissions to all developers soon.

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First Look at Xbox Game Pass

We’re continuing our commitment to give gamers more options to diversify and expand their library with games they love. Announced just yesterday, Xbox Game Pass is a new gaming subscription service that gives you unlimited access to more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 backward compatible games on Xbox One – all for $9.99 USD per month. With great games from top industry publishers such as 2K, 505 Games, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, SEGA, SNK CORPORATION, THQ Nordic GmbH, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft Studios, and more, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and you will always find something exciting to play across all genres.

One of the best things about Xbox Game Pass is that you can discover and download titles directly on your Xbox One. That means continuous, full-fidelity gameplay without having to worry about streaming or connectivity issues. In addition, all Xbox One games in the catalog – and related add-ons – will be available to purchase at an exclusive discount for Xbox Game Pass members, so you can make them part of your permanent library.

For developers and publishers alike, this is a new way to reach customers. Before the program rolls out to the broader community later this spring, we’ll be testing Xbox Game Pass with select members of the Xbox Insider Program with a very limited number of titles. If you’re in the Alpha ring of the Xbox Insider Program, you can expect to see the program on your dashboard labeled as Xbox Game Pass Alpha Preview (Test Catalog).

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Developers Getting to Know Beam

Beam is awesome. It’s fast, low-latency, interactive game broadcasting and it’s changing the way people can play, watch, and participate. In a world where the amount of people watching game streams rivals the audience of many prime-time TV networks, Xbox is making it easier and quicker to stream than ever before. We’re making Beam a feature of Xbox One and Windows 10, meaning anyone can be a game broadcaster with no extra software required.

What’s more, on Beam interactivity is about more than just the audience being able to chat with game broadcasters. Streamers can set up interactive buttons that do a range of things such as trigger on screen effects, music, in-studio lighting or even impact what is happening in the game itself. Building on this, today we shared preliminary details of the Beam Interactivity 2.0 SDK with developers – coming in March, this SDK will make developing interactive streaming features much easier and enable a wide range of new design scenarios. More details about this SDK will be published on the Beam blog and detailed in the Beam-specific GDC talk tomorrow. We’re excited about the growing list of developers who are signing up to build their games to integrate Beam in cool new ways and look forward to sharing more in the future.

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Next Up for Windows Game Mode

Another new PC gaming feature we’ve seen lots of excitement around is Windows Game Mode. Last year, we set out to make Windows 10 the best Windows ever for gaming. With Game Mode, we’re taking a step forward to make the gaming experience on Windows even better. Game Mode aims to optimize your Windows 10 PC for an improvement in overall game performance, meaning increased framerates and increased consistency with some games. We’ve also added a new gaming section to your Windows System Settings, identified with an Xbox logo, to further improve your PC gaming experience. This is where you’ll find settings for Game Mode, Game bar, GameDVR and broadcasting as we begin to consolidate settings for gaming in this unified location where PC users are accustomed to accessing their settings. We’ll be sharing more on Game Mode and other Creators Update features in the weeks ahead.

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ID@Xbox Bringing More Xbox Play Anywhere Titles

We introduced the Xbox Play Anywhere program at E3 last year, the simple idea of owning a game and it being available to play on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC – one game, one price, two platforms. Along with having access to a single game on both platforms, players can start playing on one platform and pick up where they left off on another, and their saves, game add-ons, and achievements all travel between their devices. Xbox Play Anywhere already supports 10 titles, and another 16 have been announced to be coming soon, including new ID@Xbox titles being announced or demoed at GDC this week such as Full Metal Furies, Ooblets, Snake Pass, and RUINER, with more are on the way.

Gaming for Everyone

At GDC 2017, we’re continuing our work to make sure games are fun for everyone, and to make sure underrepresented voices are heard, by once again sponsoring and hosting events for Women in Gaming, Blacks in Gaming, Latinos in Gaming, LGBTQ Gamers and Gaming Accessibility. 2017 will mark the 17th year for the Women in Gaming Luncheon, the 12th year for the Blacks in Gaming Green Room, the second year of the Latinos in Gaming networking event and the first year for the LGBTQ in Gaming networking event. Additionally, Xbox is a Gold-level sponsor of the IGDA Game Accessibility Conference as well as the sole sponsor for the new IGDA Foundation’s Next Gen Leader program focused on retaining diverse talent in the industry. As we did last year, the ID@Xbox team will be honoring some independent developers who are using their craft to build awareness about some very important issues at the Independent Game Festival awards tonight – we hope you’ll tune into the IGF stream to learn more!

It’s going to be another amazing year for Team Xbox, and there’s still a lot more to come. Even more amazing independent games will come through ID@Xbox, we’re working hard to bring Arena and professional- and player-created tournaments to Xbox Live, and tons of new social features are in the pipeline. At GDC 2017 our message is clear: more games, new developer opportunities, and big new features for console and PC gamers. We believe providing the best tools for developers results in creativity, and more creativity results in the best games and gaming experiences for players. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Today, we’re beginning to ship the first wave of Xbox One features for the Creators Update to the Xbox Insider Program members. As Mike Ybarra shared last week, the Creators Update is packed full of new features for gamers who play on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs – in fact, we’re targeting hundreds of improvements across the board, noticeable by gamers and under the hood. Today’s update will start rolling out to a small subset of gamers, with the rest of the Xbox Insider Program receiving these features in the coming weeks.

For gamers, the Creators Update is about performance, people, competition and streaming – getting you to the things you care about most as quickly as possible. Today, that will mean a faster Xbox One experience than ever before, connecting you with the applications, games, and of course, friends, that you enjoy most. Check out the updated Home and learn how the newly-designed Guide works and is meant to simplify your experience. There’s lots more, too. As part of our commitment to enhancing gaming for everyone, we’re opening up new accessibility options to ensure great experiences for all gamers when playing on Xbox.

Here’s a look at the new features reaching Xbox Insiders today: 

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  • An updated look at Home: One of the first things you’ll notice is a new look for Home. Through the Insider program, we’ve received feedback from Xbox One gamers that the UI can be complex and for certain tasks, can require too many button presses. Our goal is to simplify the UI and increase overall system performance, and that starts with updating Home based on what you care most about for the games you play. To do that, we’ve optimized for speed and are surfacing to you the most valuable content for your games. You’ll notice the main tile for what you’re currently playing has changed. Now, you’ll see a smaller icon for the game and a few options to dive deeper into the Game Hub, interact with your Club or LFG for that game, view your Achievements, and more. The updated Home also celebrates the game you’re currently playing with hero art in the background when you’re not using a custom background. 

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  • Faster and more intuitive Guide: The next thing you’re likely to notice is that Guide has been updated. With one press of the Xbox button on your controller, you can pull up the newly enhanced Guide as an overlay on the left side of your screen, no matter what you’re doing. With the Guide, we’ve added new features and functionality. You’ll notice that there’s a new start page. This page is designed to get you to the content you care about most, including your games and apps, Home, Store, your recently played games and apps, and your top Pins. It also features quick access to your media controls when playing background music.

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  • New way to multitask: In addition to adding a new start page to Guide, we’re also evolving our multitasking system. To simplify discoverability and to make it much quicker to get to the things you care about most, our multitasking features will also be designed to work well with the new Guide. In addition to quick access to music, screen shots and GameDVR will be one button press away. You can bring up Guide and press “X” or “Y” on your controller to record your favorite gaming moments. We’ve also added a new achievement tracker which allows you to track your favorite achievements and play at the same time. The new Guide is also where you will be able to broadcast instantly to Beam when we roll that out to Insiders in the next couple of weeks.

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  • Cortana gaming enhancements: There are a series of new Cortana updates to make your Xbox One smarter. In this update, you can set reminders and alarms so you don’t miss gaming sessions. In the coming weeks, we will be releasing more Cortana updates to enhance your gaming experience even more as well as continued performance and reliability updates.

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  • Improving system updates: Our goal with system updates is that you never have to worry about them again, and to make it clearer when a system update is available. To enable this we are updating the interface so the steps are easy to understand. We’re also going to enable every Xbox One owner to keep their console, games, and apps up to date independent of which power mode they have chosen. 

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  • Enabling Xbox One to be accessible for everyone: One important area for us with this release is to enable Xbox One to be able to be used and played by everyone. Take for instance our new Copilot feature which allows two controllers to act as if they were one. This will help make Xbox One more inviting to new gamers needing assistance, more fun by adding cooperative controls for any game, and easier for players who need unique configurations to play — whether that is with hands apart, hand and chin, hand and foot, etc.. We are also adding new enhancements to Magnifier and Narrator, as well as giving more options over audio output and custom rumble settings on a controller, which was previously reserved for the Xbox Elite Controller. You can find these accessibility options, and more, in Settings > Ease of Access.
  • New spatial audio output settings for developers: To enable more immersive experiences for Xbox One, we have added a number of audio output features in Settings. If you are a developer on Xbox One, the new settings will allow you to add Dolby Atmos for Home Theater, Dolby Atmos for Headphones, and Windows HRTF support to your streaming media application or game. For Xbox One owners, hang tight and soon you’ll be able experience even more incredible audio on your console.
  • Blu-ray player bitstream passthrough beta: The Blu-ray disc player on Xbox One now supports a beta of bitstream passthrough, which allows your receiver to decode audio natively. All bitstream formats are supported, including newer ones like Dolby Atmos.

This is the first series of updates, and there’s more to come. Beam, Windows Game Mode, Arena, updates to Cortana, and plenty more are on the way. Thank you to gamers and Xbox fans near and far, for your continued support—and above all else—for sharing your thoughts and feedback that enables all of us at Xbox to continue giving back.