Lately Microsoft has been very keen on explaining that most of the innovations announced recently for the Xbox One aren’t “180s”, like many believe, performed to respond to the competition, but decisions taken a long time ago and just unveiled late.
Today Microsoft Studios Partner Creative Director Ken Lobb clarified in an interview on Edge that the decision to allow every Xbox One unit to be unlocked into a devkit has been taken two years ago. And that’s not all, as developers can “whitelist” a number of players to run a test code of games in order to help with the Q&A process.
So at first we have dedicated devkits [and that’s what we’ll send to developers]. But the existing devkit is just an Xbox that’s locked into development mode. The reason [for the delay] is that there’s some work we had to finish on the back end before we could enable it. But the boxes we ship on day one are all ready to be turned into development kits right away.
The plan to turn a box into a devkit is [from] two years ago. It had to be. You don’t just decide that we’re just going to unlock the box magically and everyone can run unsecured code. We can do amazing things with this. We can whitelist players. We’re doing this with Killer Instinct. I’m going to be shipping characters after we launch and I’m going to invite about 10,000 people to be the ones that help us balance them; the same way that we’ve been inviting Evo people to Double Helix.
I want to invite 10,000 really great players to help me lock down the balance on those last two characters. The way we do that is sort of like a mini version of what it means to be in devkit mode. What we’ll do is send them a code that’s whitelisted. They’re the only ones that can play it. And, again, you don’t architect that in minutes, this has been planned for years. So, yes, a lot of our ‘alterations’ in the last few months have just been us saying, “Now we get to explain to you [the things] we’ve had in mind all along.”
Whether this is a “180” or not (it’s unlikely that it is. As Lobb states, this isn’t something you just wake up and implement in a few days), I can definitely say that it’s a very cool feature. We’ll have to wait and see if it’ll be a game changer or not, but it’s extremely interesting none the less.