a. The user is registering for App Hub with must be Dreamspark verified.
b. The Live ID that the user is registering for App Hub with must have an Xbox LIVE account
Purchase a membership through the Xbox LIVE Indie Games web site.
You must be an Xbox LIVE Indie Games member and in a supported region to create games for the Xbox 360, to publish Xbox 360 games to Indie Games on Xbox LIVE, to peer review submitted games.
Yes. An Xbox LIVE Indie Games membership is required to develop and publish games for Xbox 360. An Xbox LIVE Indie Games membership may be purchased for $99 USD for 12 months.
A free Xbox LIVE Indie Games 12-Month Academic Trial Membership will enable you to create games for the Xbox 360, but not to publish Xbox 360 games to Xbox LIVE Indie Games or to peer review submitted games.
A member of the Xbox LIVE Indie Games whose membership is in good standing and is a legal adult (for the countries we currently serve, this means 18 years of age or older).
This will be done through following a simple 4-step process:
We understand that with great power comes great responsibility, and if we're going to allow the community to have that breadth of content, we need to provide the tools to allow the community to manage it. We've already talked about the first step, "create." The next step in the process is "submit," where as a developer you need to provide information about your game and classify it by using consistent guidelines. After you submit your game, it's in the hands of your peers who will review the game based on a few basic principles. Your fellow Xbox LIVE Indie Games reviewers will be making sure there's no prohibitive content like IP infringement or objectionable subject matter. Then they'll make sure you have classified your game correctly. This isn't to put constraints on your game, but rather to make sure consumers are accurately informed about what they're downloading. Once your game successfully passes peer review, it's pushed through to Xbox LIVE. It's as simple as "create," "submit," "review," and "play."
Microsoft Employees may submit games for distribution on Xbox LIVE Marketplace in compliance with the Microsoft employee moonlighting policy.
Contingent staff at Microsoft are subject to the same rules and restrictions around peer review and game submission as Microsoft employees. Contingent staff should check with their employers for any moonlighting concerns.
No, but we recommend it. Playtest will help you catch hardware and software problems with your game, as well as feedback on gameplay and appropriateness for Xbox LIVE. Much better to find out problems before you annoy customers.
There are no complexity requirements for game submission. The only requirement is that the game be complete, which can be defined per game.
Not any more than you can make copies of Halo 3. When you submit a game, you stipulate that you own all the rights to the materials in your game. If you don't own the rights, don't submit the game.
You own the complete IP rights to your game, and you're free to distribute through any service of your choosing. However, we may provide incentives for exclusive distribution through Microsoft services.
Xbox LIVE Indie Games aren't rated by a ratings board. Instead, the games are reviewed by Xbox LIVE Indie Games members. These games will have a game classification before they appear on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
Yes. All Xbox LIVE Indie Games are considered unrated. Unrated is the highest level of restriction on the Xbox 360 console. Indie Games will be inaccessible on consoles with activated parental controls.
The game package must be less than 500MB compressed (as a .ccgame package) and compiled to run with the XNA 3.1 Framework or higher. It must be virus-free and contain only intellectual property you own the rights for. More detail on game binary requirements.
Title: 30 characters
Description: 400 characters
Thumbnail: One, 64x64 pixels, JPG only
Box Art: One, 584x700 pixels, JPG only
Screenshots: One to four, 1000x562 pixels, JPG only, < 150K size
Video: Many developers find it helpful to promote their game by hosting a video of gameplay (or marketing the game).
Note: Descriptions in local languages help sell games. You can have descriptions in as many languages as we support; however, you'll need to recruit peer reviewers who speak these languages in order to approve your game. A game won't pass peer review if its descriptions aren't reviewed.
You can check your game's peer review progress in the game details page in the games catalog.
If your game is rejected in peer review, the email address associated with your profile will receive a notification along with any data the reviewers could offer about the reason for rejection. Remember to playtest your game before submitting to peer review; playtest enables you to find problems before the game hits peer review.
If you encounter strange behavior with the classification sliders, such as suddenly changing values or being unable to select certain values, check your browser's zoom settings; anything other than 100% may cause the sliders to behave erratically. Set your zoom to 100% and try again.
If you attempt to upload a game package and encounter a problem, check the length of the package filename. The filename must be no longer than 100 characters for the upload to be successful.
Games developed by the community don't go through the same certification process that professional games do. Instead, Xbox LIVE Indie Games uses a unique community driven peer review and validation process to ensure game details accurately reflect the game's subject matter and content through our game classification system.
No. While games must be developed within the submission guidelines, Xbox LIVE Indie Games democratizes game development and distribution by placing the tools and processes in the hands of our Xbox LIVE gaming community.
There are checks and balances throughout the peer review system that enable community created games to be submitted, approved, and ultimately distributed over Xbox LIVE. Each peer reviewer is rewarded with a better reviewer reputation by the system for accuracy. Conversely, reviewers can get penalized or even banned from reviewing games, should the need arise. If inappropriate content makes it through the peer review process, the process has mechanisms to support reactive takedown.
We won't publicly disclose this number in order to maintain the security checks and balances already in place.
A member of the Xbox LIVE Indie Games whose membership is in good standing and is a legal adult (for the countries we currently serve, this means 18 years of age or older).
No. Microsoft employees aren't permitted to act as peer reviewers of games submitted to Xbox LIVE Indie Games; this includes, but is not limited to, downloading game packages, viewing screenshots, and/or reading descriptions for any game before it is available to the public on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
Contingent staff at Microsoft are subject to the same rules and restrictions around peer review and game submission as Microsoft employees.
Peer reviewers help developers write better games, and protect game players from experiencing highly offensive or malfunctioning games. Peer reviewers will reject your game if:
Microsoft reserves the right to take down a game without notice. Microsoft encourages peer reviewers to report objectionable content in a game. In addition, Microsoft will initiate punitive actions against developers who willfully submit games with misleading content indicators. Punitive actions could include the loss of subscriptions and the removal of the developer or developers from the site. Also, Microsoft will comply with all legal requests where required by law.
We don't display the price of a game during Peer Review. Peer Review is not a review of the worth of a game.
Select a game in review from the games catalog where you speak the language listed for the game. If this is your first time, the Peer Review Agreement will pop up, and if you agree to it, you can continue to peer review games. The agreement will only show up once.
You need a certain number of peer reviews of average strength to pass a game. The number will vary based on the reviewers' individual peer reviewer scores.
Each reviewer must speak a language or languages associated with the game. The game's promotional materials must be reviewed in their respective languages as well, so if there is an English language game with a Spanish description, you'll need at least two Spanish-speaking reviewers to approve the game as well.
No. Games are now evaluated for "one world" or worldwide approval.
Each game has to match the standards of all countries we support; the strictest standard will be applied for all countries. A game must pass all criteria before being allowed for sale in any Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
Though not required, it's good practice to share your game to playtest beforehand to ensure a smoother peer review process. It wastes the reviewers' time if you have crashing bugs that prevent them from finishing the review, and means you'll get a speedy rejection.
Your developer profile indicates the languages you speak (your Xbox LIVE account's official language is checked by default in your profile, but you can add more to this list). These are the languages that are used to determine whether you can peer review a game, so only check languages in which you're proficient.
You'll confirm at the end of the review which language(s) you played the game in/reviewed metadata in. This will help toward the game's overall peer review score and toward its eventual approval.
You may want to consider these things:
Depending on the size of the game, there are two sets of prices:
Yes. You may change the price of your game once every 7 days.
There's no mechanism to distribute free games on Xbox LIVE Indie Games, but we're always exploring new methods of distribution.
Indie Games developers can chose to sell their 150 MB games for 80 Microsoft Points, or sell their larger 500 MB games for either 240 or 400 Microsoft Points. Xbox LIVE Arcade games can be up to 350 MB and can sell for 400 to 1600 Microsoft Points.
Xbox LIVE Marketplace Tokens are provided for each game as a tool to the developer to promote their game. Developers will receive 50 tokens upon their game passing Peer Review. Tokens are one-use each; please ensure you don't give out the same token twice.
Whoever you like - friends, family, your postman - it's up to you. It’s recommended that you use the tokens to help promote your game and send them to influential critics, members of the press, etc.
There's no mechanism to request additional tokens.
No. It's up to the developer to track which tokens they’ve handed out to individuals. Tokens are one-use each; please ensure you don't give out the same token more than once.
Royalties are calculated by taking the Microsoft Points value for the game and multiplying it by the number of units sold. A percentage split is applied to that base, and any promotional adjustments are made. At that point, the Points are converted to U.S. dollars.
Once a developer reaches the minimum payout limit, a currency conversion occurs to the developer’s local currency.
Payments will occur once a quarter, as is standard for all of Microsoft's developers.
All points generated by games are converted to U.S. dollars and then converted to the relevant national currency.
Microsoft currently doesn't charge a promotional fee for Xbox LIVE Indie Games.
Developers currently receive 70 percent of the total revenue from their game sales.
No. All developers agree to a common set of terms when they submit their game to the service.
No. Royalty calculations always convert to U.S. dollars. When the developer gets paid, the conversion to the developer's local currency occurs.
We only support payouts to the countries that developers can currently submit from.
No. We only support payouts to countries that developers can submit from.
We support the following currencies:
No. We only support paying out in the currency for the developer's country, as shown in the chart above.
On the Xbox LIVE Indie Games site there will be a link to fill in your Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This data includes your bank and tax details so you're able to be paid.
PII needs to be filled in by the 15th of the month following the quarter end.
In order to get paid for your games that have been purchased on Xbox LIVE, you'll need to fill in your personal and tax information:
The following information can be entered:
You'll also need to gather the additional tax information depending on where you're based:
A U.S.-based developer is one who for federal tax purposes is considered a U.S. Person as described by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Form W-9.
According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Form W-9, the definition as of November 2008 is as follows:
Definition of a U.S. person. For federal tax purposes, you are considered a U.S. person if you are:
An individual who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien*,
A partnership, corporation, company, or association created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States,
An estate (other than a foreign estate), or
A domestic trust (as defined in Regulations section (301.7701-7).
[*You can find more information on the definition of a U.S. resident alien on page 3 of the Form W-8BEN Instructions.]
If you're a U.S. Person you'll require one of the following Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) in order to be paid:
Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Non-U.S. based Developer
Non-U.S. developers are those not considered a U.S. Person as per the W-9 definition. In order to get paid, you must submit the relevant Form W-8.
Developers who are residents of certain countries may be eligible for a reduction or exemption from U.S. income tax on their revenue. The list can be found in Publication 901 (see Table 1, Column 12 – Copyright Royalties, Other, and Footnotes). The publication was last updated April 2010.
IRS Publication 901 (All Countries) - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p901.pdf
A Taxpayer Identification Number is not strictly required to get paid, although without it you will be subject to an automatic 30% U.S. tax withholding even if your country provides for a lower rate of U.S. taxation. If your country has a tax treaty with the U.S, you'll be able to take advantage of that providing you have a relevant Taxpayer Identification Number and submit a properly completed treaty claim on Form W-8.
In order to take advantage of any treaties between the U.S. and your country, you'll need one of the following Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs):
IRS Form W-7 may be used to apply for an ITIN. IRS Publication 1915, including the example on page 27, provides information on how to complete this form and file it directly with the IRS. You may need a letter from Microsoft confirming that you need a US TIN. Download the form.
The form is provided in PDF format in English only. The following information has to be entered to be considered a valid form:
Date. The date you print the form in MM/DD/YYYY format
To. The Developer’s physical name
Royalty recipient Account Number. The Developer name as registered on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games web site.
Microsoft doesn't provide tax advice. For more information, refer to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service website.
In order to get paid you need to provide Bank Account Information
|Country||Account Number||Routing Number||Swift Code/BIC||IBAN|
|Canada||Required||Transit Number, Required||Required||N/A|
|UK||Required||Sort Code, Required||Required||Required|
|Australia||Required||BSB Code, Required||Required||N/A|
|New Zealand||Required||BSB Code, Required||Required||N/A|
The other Bank Account information that can be entered includes:
Account Holder Name (Required)
Bank Name (Required)
Street Address, of the bank
Zip code/Postal Code
It's your choice. You may wait or you may complete your PII details, accept the 30% withholding and mail your Form W-8 now (with no US TIN). If you do, after you receive your ITIN you can revise and resubmit an original Form W-8 with your U.S. TIN and a treaty claim properly completed.
It may be possible to receive a refund by filing Form W-7 with a completed tax return after the calendar year in which the withholding was deducted. See the instructions to Form W-7 and consult your tax advisor for more details.
No. The withholding is paid to IRS and the only way to get a refund is from the IRS directly
For a non-US person the withholding, whether 30% or a treaty rate, will only apply to content sold within the US. Any content knowingly sold outside the US is not eligible for withholding.
Non-U.S. based persons will need to fill in the PII form and will also need to send the relevant W-8 form. Once the relevant W-8 form has been received and processed, they will be able to be paid. If required, you'll be mailed an IRS Form 1042-S annually. This form reports any taxable royalties you received and U.S. income tax withholding deducted from your payments.
There are four types of W-8 forms available on the IRS website. While Microsoft doesn't provide tax advice, we can tell you that Form W-8BEN is the most frequently submitted form. Also, please note the following language on the top of Forms W-8EXP, W-8IMY and W-8ECI: "Do not use this form for: A beneficial owner solely claiming foreign status or treaty benefits. Instead, use Form W-8BEN."
If you have a TIN and are claiming a treaty benefit on your Form W-8, you may wish to refer to this IRS page, which has a link to all U.S. Double Taxation Income Tax Treaties where the relevant Article numbers can be found.
For further information, please contact a tax professional.
The address is:
Attn: Finance Department
29011 Commerce Center Drive
Valencia, CA 91355
Every TIN is validated against an IRS service to confirm that the TIN is valid. The matching is done against the TIN and Name. If they don't match what’s in the IRS records, then it’s considered not valid and is rejected. Another possible reason for this to fail is that your TIN details haven't yet been entered into the IRS database.
You name must match exactly what the IRS has on record.
If you’re TIN is not valid, you won't be paid. You must have a valid TIN.
Payments will occur up to 45 days after the quarter ends.
We don't support payment request questions until the last US business day of the month, which is two months after the quarter ends.
See the table below:
|Quarter||Last P2 change date||"Where's My Payment" Requests|
|April - June 2009||7/15/09 - Wednesday||8/31/09 - Monday|
|July - September 2009||10/15/09 - Thursday||11/30/09 - Monday|
|October - December 2009||1/15/10 - Friday||2/26/09 - Friday|
|Jan-March 2010||4/15/10 - Thursday||5/31/10 - Monday|
|April - June 2010||7/15/10 - Thursday||8/31/10 - Tuesday|
|July - September 2010||10/15/10 - Friday||11/30/10 - Tuesday|
|October - December 2010||1/15/11 - Saturday||2/28/11 - Monday|
|Jan-March 2011||4/15/11 - Friday||5/31/11 - Monday|
|April - June 2011||7/15/11 - Friday||8/31/11 - Wednesday|
|July - September 2011||10/15/11 - Saturday||11/30/11 - Wednesday|
|October - December 2011||1/15/12 - Sunday||2/29/12 - Wednesday|
Using the example of the quarter April-June 2009:
No. Please contact a tax professional.
U.S.-based persons must fill in a W-9 replacement form online by using the PII form. Once the form is filled in and the person's Tax Identifier Number (TIN) is confirmed as being valid, they'll be eligible to be paid.
Non-U.S. based persons will need to fill in the PII form and will also need to physically mail the relevant W-8 form. Once the relevant W-8 form has been received and processed, they'll be eligible to be paid.
Microsoft doesn't provide tax advice. Please contact a tax professional.
No. The relevant W-8 form needs to be processed prior to any payments.
Payments occur up to 45 days after the quarter end and occur, at the same time for all developers. We don't support payments outside of that time. If the PII comes in late, then the royalty is rolled over to the next quarter.
You can submit as an individual or as a company. If you choose to submit as an individual, then you're liable for the tax.
Microsoft currently doesn't charge a promotional fee for Xbox LIVE Indie Games. We reserve the right to change this at any time.
There's a minimum payout limit per quarter. If you don't reach this limit there will be no payout. The minimum payout limit will be $150 U.S. dollars.
You'll need to get a bank account in order to get paid.
Absolutely. XNA Game Studio contains multiplayer and matchmaking functionality for Xbox LIVE. This offering is capable of publishing any title developers can create by using the XNA Game Studio development tools.
No. Achievements are reserved for commercial games.
Yes. Developers can incorporate avatars into their Xbox LIVE Indie Games titles.
You can submit an update to your game seven days after the previous game review ended.
After the updated version of your game has been approved, consumers who have downloaded previous versions will be prompted to download the new version when they launch the game. If they accept the update, then the updated game is added to the download queue and the old version is deleted.
Consumers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Singapore, and Spain are able to download Xbox LIVE Indie Games for purchase. We are continually working to add additional regions.
Xbox LIVE Indie Games members in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States can sell their games. We're continually working to add additional regions, but these are the only countries where Xbox LIVE Indie Games is currently enabled to pay their residents who submit games to Xbox LIVE Indie Games.
Yes. Developers from any country can help their fellow game developers by play testing or peer reviewing a game. The only requirement is that they speak the language of the game and/or its metadata.
Our plan is to give developers the option to sell the game in multiple markets, regardless of the language that the marketplace supports. Peer reviewers must understand the language in order to effectively review the game, of course, and developers need to think hard about whether their game will sell effectively if their intended customer doesn't understand the language of the start menu, help, and so on.
Yes. You need to be in one of the countries where we support developer payouts in order to be paid.
Possibly. The issues between developers and consumers are really very different, and from our perspective it's a little easier to enable regions with developer education content for developers markets than for the consumer purchase in marketplace. It's likely that developers will be able to have games submitted from additional countries before we're able to publish games into those same countries.
If you don't see an offer for Xbox LIVE Indie Games membership, it could be that you live in a country that doesn't offer that service. The list of countries that the Xbox LIVE Indie Games is currently offered in is Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and United States.
It isn't currently available in India or the Republic of Korea.
Other countries not listed above are still being investigated for future inclusion into Xbox LIVE Indie Games.
Xbox LIVE Indie Games members can create new songs for “Rock Band Network”. To create a song, they’ll need to download the developer tools through Harmonix's Rock Band Network site, then follow the process to submit the song. Once it passes through the Harmonix process, it will be made available for consumers to download through “Rock Band” on Xbox LIVE.
The Xbox LIVE Indie Games has been used by independent game developers to create and publish hundreds of games for the Xbox LIVE Indie Games channel. It’s a system that’s easy for developers to use and has been proven to work.
We designed the Xbox LIVE Indie Games platform to be flexible; because of this, Harmonix was able to quickly and easily package the Xbox LIVE Indie Games publishing platform with its own music development tools for “Rock Band”. The Xbox LIVE Indie Games peer review process is also flexible; the infrastructure was already in place and we built it with more than just game content in mind.
We built a scalable system that will be able to handle the bandwidth of newly developed songs, regardless of their size. Bandwidth has not been a problem for us – even with more than 400 games at an average of 100 MB each in the Indie Games channel, we haven't had any bandwidth issues.
For those game developers who are interested in or who are already designing games, this is an opportunity to expand their own creativity into music. We believe it will also bring in many additional indie music enthusiasts that only focus on music. Overall, it’s a bonus that developers can design both games and songs with a single Xbox LIVE Indie Games membership, so we expect to see an increase.
We aren't discussing that at this time. We're always looking at opportunities to expand the content available to Xbox users.
This initiative will introduce new content developers to Xbox LIVE Indie Games, bringing in new talent that will ensure that the best indie games and music will be available on Xbox LIVE. We're committed to supporting innovation and creativity for developers at every level, which makes Microsoft a great partner for innovative companies like Harmonix. Music is one of the most creative avenues for indie communities to express themselves, and ultimately make money.
Xbox LIVE Indie Games and Xbox LIVE Arcade are complementary to one another. Indie Games is an outlet for the masses to experiment and create the most innovative and irreverent games imaginable on a console, while Xbox LIVE Arcade continues to consistently feature polished, casual arcade games.
The Xbox LIVE Indie Games platform is open to absolutely anyone who has a dream to create their own game and publish it for millions to play on Xbox 360. While Xbox LIVE Arcade remains a managed portfolio with a limited number of publishing slots, Xbox LIVE Indie Games doesn't undergo a certification process and isn't part of a managed portfolio. Xbox LIVE Indie Games is managed entirely by the community. We're pioneering the way for an entirely new segment of game developers, unlike any other next-gen games console.
Absolutely. By using the XNA Game Studio software along with purchasing a membership to Xbox LIVE Indie Games, anyone with the desire and know-how can develop a game for Xbox LIVE. We designed the ability to offer Xbox LIVE Indie Games with the intent to open development up to the masses, but also to bring more choices and greater innovation to the everyday Xbox 360 player.
The Xbox LIVE Indie Games storefront is an easy-to-use addition to the existing marketplace on Xbox LIVE. Currently, consumers can view and rate Indie Games on Xbox.com, watch trailers, and even play a trial of each game before buying, as a simple way to discover fun and innovative titles.
We currently have no plans to delist or remove any game successfully approved by the community and listed in our catalog. Inappropriate games can still get removed through our abuse reporting mechanisms.
Those interested in doing so should initiate that conversation with their account manager.
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