Xbox One Dev Mode

That’s right, you can now use your retail Xbox One to develop apps and games.

There are several things you need to obtain and install, and you need to play with some pre-release developer tools, but you CAN build apps and test them on YOUR Xbox One.

When contrasting this with the old Creators Club for Xbox 360, there are a few interesting comparisons.  First, with the 360 you had to use the XNA Framework.  Now, the XNA Framework was so accessible and powerful that it lives on in spirit today in the Monogame platform.  But that was your only choice.

For information on downloading and setting up the pieces you need, start here:
UWP on Xbox One.

Getting Started

You particularly will need to follow the steps to get several items:

  1. You must use Visual Studio 2015 Update 2.  You can use the absolutely free Visual Studio Community.
  2. You have to have Windows 10 on your developer PC.
  3. You also need to sign up for Windows Insider, but you do NOT need to set your Windows 10 PC to receive Insider pre-release builds.
  4. You have to install a prerelease SDK for Windows 10.
  5. You have to enable developer mode on Xbox One.

And there’s one other wrinkle.  If you are in the Xbox One Dashboard preview program, you have to exit that program first.

Shahed Chowdhuri and Dave Voyles made a great intro video talking about the steps to get started and explaining your next steps to building a game for Xbox One.  Check it out at Dave Voyles blog: Turn your retail Xbox One into a dev kit to create games and apps

Simon Jackson also provided a complete overview of the process and some perspective on how it is really amazing to be building games for your retail console:  UWP and development on Xbox One

System resources

UWP apps do not have the low level system access of other games built using the specialized Xbox One SDKs.  However, there are a large set of games that will run very well even with the limits.  For more on that, see the following: System resources for UWP apps and games on Xbox One .

For Xbox One, the platform is the Universal Windows Platform.  That’s a mouthful, especially for people who aren’t in the Microsoft developer ecosystem on a daily basis.  So what does it mean?

Universal Windows Platform

The UWP is a platform that allows you to choose from many different languages to build apps.  What this meanas for game developers is that more ecosystems in the game development space are open to us.

Your UWP app could be built with:

  • C# and XAML – This is similar to the WPF platform.  But most importantly this means you can use MonoGame.  Learn more about MonoGame.



  • HTML5/JavaScript – The UWP supports “plain old web technologies”.  Features of the Xbox One are exposed using standard APIs.  This means that today you can access the gamepad just using the standard gamepad apis.  For a living sample still to be updated, try here:


  • Unity – The Unity game engine exports UWP projects, so those work.  Furthermore, you can export these projects with the free version of Unity.  Unity is very popular, and they have a ton of tutorial videos and help on their site.



  • Construct 2 – This is especially good for beginners and kids.  The visual, event driven system takes most of the coding out of it.  But if you are fluent with JavaScript you CAN write plugins.  From the beginning Construct2 has been focused on using Web tehnologies to make games, so they have a UWP export feature.  But you do need at least a personal license.


  • PhaserJS, CreateJS, BabylonJS – These are three different web based JavaScript frameworks.  Yes you will have to be a web developer, and a fairly proficient JavaScript developer, to use these.  However, there are many awesome examples and this is how some people learn to code in the first place.


The obvious answer to this is there are many many more possibilities.  I would like to look into how Unreal Engine and the CryEngine might be supported.  This is unclear to me at this time.

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