Project Moorcraft: Xbox will pay game developers to publish demos

Project Moorcraft: Xbox will pay game developers to publish demos Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (

Xbox has unveiled Project Moorcraft, an initiative to boost the demos available on Game Pass while helping developers to earn some bucks.

This month is when game developers and fans usually flock to the E3 Expo to see the latest game reveals and platform updates and get their hands on early previews of upcoming titles.

E3 was put on hold during the pandemic and all the major gaming players switched to virtual events for their big reveals. Unfortunately, that meant lining up in large, sweaty queues for often a relatively brief hands-on demo was a nostalgic memory (I’m probably not pitching that well…)

Project Moorcraft aims to bring the excitement of E3 demos to gamers’ living rooms.

“We said, you know what, why don’t we take Game Pass and make it like the showfloor?” said Sarah Bond, Corporate Vice President of Game Creator Experience and Ecosystem at Xbox, in a media briefing.

“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?”

Matt Booty, Head of Xbox Game Studios, asked why a developer should bother going down this route instead of working on their game.

“As part of this, we’ve set up the program and structured it so that developers get financial compensation – it actually benefits them financially – and they also get the benefit of the feedback as well,” Bond responded.

Just to add on, there’s also the benefit of the hype that a demo can generate. Players who may not otherwise even try the game can at least give it a shot, risk-free.

A big question in need of an answer is exactly how much developers will be paid—we presume it’ll be based on performance, but how much to expect per install is quite important.

Other questions include whether developers will have to commit to releasing their full games on Game Pass, how strict the application process will be, and what kind of marketing help Microsoft will give participants.

However, pending those details, it’s an interesting scheme that could prove a win for developers, players, and Microsoft itself. Smaller game developers without big marketing budgets could benefit most from the initiative.

With over 25 million subscribers across PC, console, and cloud, Game Pass has already been a roaring success.

Microsoft says that Game Pass subscribers play 40 percent more titles, explore 30 percent more genres after joining, and spend 50 percent more on average. Indie devs are said to enjoy a 300 percent growth in revenue—split between 190 percent in participation payments and bonuses for being part of the program, and 110 percent through in-game add-ons and revenue.

Project Moorcraft looks to build on that success.

(Image Credit: Xbox)

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