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Hackers pave way for Xbox One homebrew games

A group of hackers known as “H4LT” has shared an important piece of Xbox One software online.

Screenshots of the console’s SDK files, which are usually only available to game developers, have already been posted on Twitter.

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A selection of SDK files have also been shared using Kim Dotcom’s Mega cloud storage platform.

Someone with experience of game development could potential work with the H4LT collective to release a public version of the Xbox One’s SDK, enabling anyone to create games for the console, creating a “homebrew” ecosystem and threatening Microsoft’s control over software releases.

While developers usually need approval from Microsoft before they are able to release any games for the console, hackers could potentially find a way around this, opening the Xbox One up to a host of unapproved games.

“Once the SDK is out, people who have knowledge or has in the past reversed files related to the Windows (8) operating system should definitely have a go at reversing some files in there. Why? Well, the Xbox One is practically a stripped Windows 8 device and has introduced a new package format that hasn't had much attention,” the H4LT group wrote online.

“This format is responsible for updating the console and storing applications (Games are under the category of 'Applications' on the Xbox One) and is a modification of Virtual Hard Disks. There is no definite 'exploit' but from what we have studied and tested, this simple Packaging format could possibly lead us to creating Homebrew applications for the Xbox One.”

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A number of other consoles have become popular amongst amateur video game developers. The Wii has a thriving homebrew community that continues to release software that has not been authorised by Nintendo. The Playstation Portable, or PSP, also remains a popular homebrew device, despite numerous attempts from Sony to prevent unlicensed releases.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.