"A lot of the platform decisions we made in previous generations have really been around the fact we had a predominantly retail business model," said Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison. "You don't want to be pressing millions of discs only to find they don't work. Those are expensive investments that are difficult to retract from. But in a digital world, those constraints go away. In the previous generation, all console companies had walled gardens with pretty high walls. And now we've got gardens with small fences around them, or maybe a hedge. The barrier to entry has definitely come down, and that is a really positive trend for gamers, but also for creating an on-ramp for developers looking to get into our industry."
Microsoft is well aware that such an approach would have negative consequences when taken to extremes. Nonetheless, Harrison believes that ID@Xbox indie self-publishing program is still far away from that point.
"There's always a balance to be had, but right now our push--and we'll continue for the foreseeable future--is to democratize access to our platform," he explained. "As you know, we have an intention that every retail Xbox One can become a dev kit, and we want to open up the platform to as many people as possible."