Independently developing games for consoles has always been tricky. While PC gaming has the benefit of a truly independent release via the Internet, trying to get your game on a console means that you'll have to go through Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo — and for a lot of development studios, that used to be too much to ask for.

Thankfully, the process has gotten noticeably simpler over the years: what used to be a nightmare of certifications and fees is now a much more streamlined process. There's still room to improve, that's for sure, but all three major publishers have made major strides throughout the current console generation. Microsoft in particular has made it easier for smaller developers to make games for its system — and the latest Xbox update is a perfect example.

Announced earlier today, Microsoft has confirmed that any Xbox One will be able to work as a development kit, regardless of whether it's a dedicated unit or a retail model. Basically, Microsoft has opened up the Xbox One to anyone who wants to try and make a game of their own.

Of course, it's not as simple as flipping a switch and putting a game together: users will only be able to activate the console's development features after downloading a specific "dev mode" app to the console, users will be able to switch over to a separate development mode. On top of that, you'll still have to build your game on a Windows 10 PC, as well as sign up for Microsoft's ID@Xbox and Windows Insider Program — which, while it may sound time consuming, isn't as bad as it sounds. The Dev Mode download itself is currently available as a preview now, with a full release scheduled for later this summer.

This isn't the first time that Xbox users have been able to turn their consoles into a development kit, but any homebrew attempts ran the risk of damaging the hardware. Xbox Dev Mode marks the first official release of its kind, and better yet, it's all for free — though a separate $19 Dev Account is required to make use of all the system's features.

There are a few risks that players will still have to worry about: most notably, any retail Xbox Ones that are converted into dev kits may run into trouble playing retail games. Microsoft has warned that, for anyone who wants to play it safe, it may be best to wait until the Xbox Dev Mode's full release to start making games.

If you're worried that the Xbox dashboard will soon be flooded with half-baked indie games, don't be: all games still have to go through Microsoft's "Xbox Concept Approval," which is a fancy way of saying that all titles will be subject to Microsoft's quality assurance program. Just because everyone can make a game for the console doesn't mean that everyone's games will make it through to the Xbox Store, even if more people than ever will have access to the tech.

It's all pretty complicated (you can read all the nitty-gritty details over at Microsoft's official site), but it's still a huge step forward for the platform — open development kits were promised as early as 2013, and Microsoft hasn't always been good to its independent developers.

Hopefully, with the console's latest update, those days are officially behind us.

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