Tuesday 15 August 2006
Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express, which was announced yesterday, is the company's "first step of creating a YouTube for videogames," according to Xbox chief Peter Moore. The software package will allow non-professional developers to create their own games for Xbox 360, and Microsoft hopes that these games will eventually be shared around the world.
However, XNA's sharing system will differ from YouTube's user-friendly, cost-free setup in some ways. Although the software is free - you simply need a Windows XP-enabled PC - doling out your hard work on Xbox 360 requires an annual $50-$99 (about £25-£50) subscription, a 360 hard drive and more software. Not to mention a grasp of compiling and creating code.
Above: The XNA Game Studio Express will be launched at the end of this year
Unfortunately, you can't just ship out your creation to anyone, either. Only the raw pieces of the program can be distributed - not the final, complied software. And you can't swap these by 360 memory card. Plus, for someone else to play your game, they also need to have the XNA package and a valid subscription.
Even so, despite all the complexities, Microsoft is keen to push indie development forward with XNA, perhaps even into commercial production. "I'd love to send a royalty cheque to a kid," Peter Moore has said, and future plans for the software package include tools to allow bedroom coders to enhance their games.