So what if Microsoft’s way behind on user-generated video? It is trying another way, using its Xbox platform: it plans to offer a consumer version of the professional software tools used to create video games for its Xbox 360 console.
The XNA Game Studio Express program, an offshoot of the company’s more robust XNA Framework, will be available Aug. 30 for a $99 annual subscription, and will let anyone with the desire create their own video games and then share them on Microsoft’s Xbox Live online game service.
Though it’s designed to eliminate much of the tedious hand-coding involved in making a game from scratch, some basic programming skills are still going to be needed for the consumer version.
The company is hoping to create a YouTube of video games (not my words…Peter Moore, a Microsoft VP, said that in this AP story).
Reuters: Microsoft said more than 10 universities, including the University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University, will include XNA Game Studio Express and Xbox 360 development in their fall curricula. The company will do revenue sharing deals with people who create games for the Xbox 360.
News.com: In the first incarnation, games will be available only to like-minded hobbyists, not whole Xbox community…those who want to develop games will have to pay a $99 fee to be part of a “Creators’ Club,” a name that is likely to change. Games developed using XNA Game Studio Express will be playable only by others who are part of the club. Next spring, Microsoft hopes to have a broader set of tools that will allow for games to be created that can then be sold online through Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade. Microsoft will still control which games get published, and it’ll get a cut of the revenue.