Microsoft has announced some major changes to its [email protected] program. The updated acceleration initiative aims to empower underrepresented indie game developers and lower barriers to entry for them.
Microsoft announced the new initiative called the [email protected] Developer Acceleration Program on March 21.
Originally launched in 2019, the first version was aimed at providing emerging developers with diverse perspectives with enough resources to bring their games to Xbox. The company has since helped 100 indie creators port games, including Onsen Master, ValiDate, and Paper Ghost Stories 7PM, to the platform.
The new [email protected] acceleration program will offer more options and will now focus on three main areas:
- Porting — Microsoft offsets porting investment of selected developers, not requiring any recoupment or platform exclusivity;
- Information — indie developers can access monthly Green Room webinars to get knowledge about marketing, certification, game lifecycle, and other topics;
- Prototypes — Microsoft will partner with a small number of promising developers to offer them the non-recoupable funding and support needed to create a prototype.
“Our focus is twofold. It’s both on creators that may otherwise not have been able to get into the industry or aren’t fully represented, but it’s also about people who are actually respectfully creating stories about those experiences,” Xbox corporate VP Sarah Bond told Game Developers.
According to Microsoft, the [email protected] Developer Acceleration Program looks for studios who are led by creators from Black, Indigenous, Latino or LGBTQIA+ communities, women, as well as devs with disabilities and devs from emerging markets. However, the initiative is not limited to these groups.
The new acceleration program is part of the broader [email protected] label that Microsoft first introduced in 2013. It supports indie developers and allows them to self-publish their games on Xbox and Windows. Over the years, hundreds of studios have participated in the program, including Double Fine, Larian Studios, Bloober Team, and Mediatonic.
In a blog post from March 21, Microsoft announced that indie developers have earned more than $4 billion in royalties through the [email protected] program since 2013.