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Microsoft to Enable User Created XBox 360 Games

XNA Game Studio Express

Microsoft has announced their latest project for the XBox 360 entitled XNA Game Studio Express. The product will allow anyone with skills to develop games for the XBox 360 and the PC simultaneously. Users will also be able to share their work via the new XBox 360 Creators Club – which will be integrated into Microsoft’s XBox Live service.

According to Gamasutra: “XNA Game Studio Express will be available for free to anyone with a Windows XP-based PC, and will provide them with what’s described as “Microsoft’s next-generation platform for game development.” In addition, by joining a “creators club” for an annual subscription fee of $99, users will be able to build, test and share their games on Xbox 360, as well as access a wealth of materials to help speed the game development progress.”

Apparently, initial game development packs will allow for basic game programming with future versions becoming increasingly elaborate. There will also be an XNA Professional version that will be aimed directly at high level users.

In my opinion, developing a community of homebrewed games for the 360 will be beneficial for everyone involved. Tapping into unknown talent will undoubtedly result in some fun and original gaming experiences for the consumer and a healthy “farm system” for Microsoft Game Studios.

The XNA Game Studio Express beta will be available Aug. 30, 2006 as a free download on Windows XP. A final version is expected during the holiday season.

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