Earlier this year, we reported on job listings posted to Microsoft’s official Careers page that hinted at new roles within the company dedicated to exploring mod support for Xbox games. Now, a new report from Windows Central contains details from a presentation intended for Microsoft internally and other development partners that goes into greater detail on what this initiative actually involves.
Microsoft is calling this initiative as a whole “Xbox Community Content”. It includes service-level support, meaning support built into Xbox Live, for uploading and downloading user-generated mods, as well as the ability to search for and discover mods on the platform. The presentation also describes social features that make the Xbox Community Content initiative sound similar to Steam Workshop, with the ability to follow individual mods for update notifications, and share those mods with Xbox Live friends. This will also include an element of moderation, but it’s unclear whether that will come from Microsoft and developers, or be achieved with user reporting and voting.
The presentation also states that it would allow individual developers to define what is and is not a mod for their particular product. This would allow certain games to limit mods to cosmetic features, such as new skins, while others could define mods as user-created levels, maps, and more.
Crucially, developers will also be able to define whether those mods will be monetised or not – creating a differentiation between paid mods and free mods unique to each game. The report also hints at the ability for developers to choose whether some of that money would go to mod creators. Much of this echoes the monetisation approach Bethesda’s Creation Club has taken.
"Developers will also be able to define whether those mods will be monetised or not ... The report also hints at the ability for developers to choose whether some of that money would go to mod creators"
Windows Central notes that this presentation was created prior to a developer beta for the Xbox Community Content system going live for Xbox developer kits in March of this year. The presentation also states that “approved mod libraries” could go live in the next few months, but those mods would not necessarily be immediately visible to end users. Future updates would place those mods directly within a game’s store page – along with the ability for users to rate and review individual mods.
Another factor to consider, which the report does not go into, is how mods will work on Xbox titles that support the Xbox Play Anywhere program – allowing those games to be played on PCs through the Windows 10 Store. Additionally, how would mods for Xbox games be created? Would developers be more open to releasing modding tools if this community content initiative goes live?
It’s unclear when Microsoft plans to say more about this initiative, but we’ll report on any official word from the company or other developers as soon as it’s given.
Full disclosure: The ModDB team is working on mod.io a mod API and SDK for game developers that aims to provide an open alternative to Steam Workshop that works across all devices and stores.