Filled under the category of “News to me but not necessarily new”, as reported on Gamasutra, Microsoft have released their Game Development Kit on GitHub. This sounds like a huge development, as the GDK is the technologies and APIs you use to integrate with XBox services (while the GDKX is used for tasks like platform specific rendering, and is not included). However in the end you still need a license to publish a title created using the GDK.
More details are available on the Microsoft Game Stack blog:
Games have always been one of the most technically complex forms of media created. They are limited only by creators’ imagination and their ability to translate that vision to reality through technology. We want to enable any creator, anywhere on the planet, to make games for our ecosystem. And, to help with that we’ve made the Microsoft Game Development Kit (GDK) available on GitHub, free of charge!
The GDK is the same base development kit used by hundreds of game creators today and was previously only available to approved partners building for the Xbox ecosystem. The GDK contains the common tools, libraries, and documentation needed for developers, it’s the future of the Xbox ecosystem across all platforms—PC, cloud, mobile, and console.
By using the GDK, creators will get a head start on their game development based on a technical foundation that will also allow them to unlock functionalities to integrate with the Xbox ecosystem like commerce, achievements, multiplayer and more. Access to publish on the Xbox ecosystem of stores is still private, following common industry licensing practices. Completing the journey to publish a game to the Xbox store on Windows – directly or through the Game Pass program – involves applying to qualify for an Xbox partners program, signing a license agreement, and configuring gaming services. Interested creators can check out the ID@Xbox program for more information.
Essentially this GDK enables you to start development and learn the tools, but ultimately you need a license with Microsoft to actually publish anything, exactly as it is today. Additionally today’s release is a binary file and not a source release. There is however one key part of the announcement that is perhaps the most interesting:
Q: Why is the GDK a binary release and not an open source release on GitHub?
A: We will continue to take steps towards making more of Xbox game development more open. This is just an early step in that direction with a binary release of the installer to modernize how we distribute the software and enabling collaboration around source that is available (Xbox Live, PlayFab, and Game Development Samples).
So hopefully this is the first step in opening up a very closed process, only time will tell. You can learn more about the Microsoft Game Development Kit release on GitHub in the video below.