[email protected] now offers the Unity Pro and Xbox extension for free to developers

Microsoft is now offering a big incentive for indie developers to bring games to Xbox Live, announcing Tuesday that it will offer the Unity Engine Xbox extension and Unity Pro seat licenses for Xbox One developers in the [email protected] program.

One of the biggest challenges for independent game developers is acquiring the proper graphics engine technologies to make it all come to life. There are many barriers to access a well-running and compelling graphics engine. For example, the popular Unreal 3 engine responsible for Bioshock: Infinite requires companies that can’t call themselves “an industry heavyweight with a commercial development history” to jump through many hoops before price is even discussed.

According to the press release, the Xbox extension (which costs $1,500) will grant free access to develop games not only for the Xbox One, but also for Kinect and Xbox SmartGlass. This is in addition to Unity’s built-in cross-platform capabilities, which allow for simplified port processes to Android and iPhone, provided additional licenses are in place. In addition, developers will be able to take advantage of Unity Pro (which also costs $1,500) to create better graphics that will take advantage of the Xbox One’s increased power.

Of course, this is all possible provided that a developer is successfully vetted through the [email protected] program — which can be a challenge in itself. But this easier level of access means that small-time developers will be able to bring their games to Xbox Live without eating costs for creating graphics that will look pretty on the Xbox One.

Listen to more about the development of the Xbox One’s console, among other sessions, via livestream later today at Roadmap 2013.