In an effort to create the “YouTube of video games”, Microsoft announced yesterday that an offshoot of Microsoft’s XNA Framework will be available in August in beta form, with an official release this holiday season for an annual subscription fee of $99. Indie game developers, homebrew fanatics, and educational institutions will now be able to develop games concurrently for PC’s running Windows as well as for delivery and play via Xbox Live Arcade.
Joystiq has the full scoop, but here’s the recap: “The $99 subscription grants you access to the (tentatively titled) “creator’s club,” which will also offer downloadable sample games to help would be game developers get started. Unfortunately, these sample games will not be available outside of the subscription service to entice curious coders to participate, but they are a launching point for the most exciting, innovative, and (understandably) long-term goal of this project. A community-powered Xbox Live Arcade gaming space.”
Microsoft’s Chris Satchell went on, “XNA Game Studio Express will ignite innovation and accelerate prototyping, forever changing the way games are developed,” Satchell said. “By unlocking retail Xbox 360 consoles for community-created games, we are ushering in a new era of cross-platform games based on the XNA platform. We are looking forward to the day when all the resulting talent-sharing and creativity transforms into a thriving community of user-created games on Xbox 360.”
This is an exciting devleopment for developers, gamers, and fans of the homebrew scene. Imagine a homebrew-Elektroplankton-type-game, networkable via Xbox Live, and brought to you by the boy-genius-next-door! While the possibilities are mindboggling, the depth and extent of this system is yet to be tested. This is something we’ll be watching very closely and we’ll bring additional reports as more information is available.
And if any of you homebrew or indie developers are planning on jumping onboard the XNA Express (ha!), drop us a line!