Microsoft has announced Project Moorcroft, a new initiative that will allow developers to release demos straight into the Xbox Game Pass line-up, and earn money for doing so.
In a briefing for media, Corporate Vice President, Sarah Bond explained that Xbox has seen fewer and fewer opportunities for developers to put games on event showfloors and present them directly to potential fans – and pointed out that this could harm smaller developers struggling to be seen in an online space.
"So we said, you know what, what don't we take Game Pass and make it like the showfloor?," Bond continued. "Why don't we make it possible for developers to take a piece, a level of their game, release it into Game Pass, generate excitement for what's coming, and also get that really valuable feedback as they're tuning and preparing their game for launch?"
Asked by Head of Xbox Game Studios, Matt Booty why a developer would spend valuable time making a demo instead of working directly on their game, Bond added the positive kicker for developers becoming a part of Moorcroft:
"It's important to us that everything we do has benefit for both our players and for creators," Bond replied. "So as part of this, we've set up the program and structured it so that the develoeprs get financial compensation for the game – it actually benefits them financially – and also get the benefit of the great feedback as well."
There remain a few unknowns here. While we know the program will start "within the next year", no specific dates have been given. It's also not clear if developers will be offered a flat fee for their demos, or if they'll be paid based on performance on Game Pass. We also don't know the application system for Moorcroft, how curated its set of demos will be, and if being a part of it guarantees developers a spot in the Game Pass line-up at launch (or even locks them into it).
Aside from offering more content for Game Pass subscribers, and an intriguing deal for developers, this also clearly benefits Microsoft in that it will be be able to spot high-performers earlier on in the development cycle, perhaps snapping the games up for Game Pass, or increasing promotion around them.
In related news, Microsoft also announced that its Cloud Streaming services will expand this year too, allowing Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to stream "select" games they own, even if they're not a part of the Game Pass line-up. Xbox Game Pass streaming will also come to TVs via a new Samsung app.