Microsoft: the amateur game developer’s best friend

Who would have guessed that Microsoft is going to allow user-made games to run on both the Xbox 360 and the PC?

This news’ bomb has been just dropped and it’s bound to change the way independent, hobbyist and amateur game development works: by using C# and Microsoft’s XNA technology (a DirectX of sorts), people will finally be able to test their coding skills on a console platform (see some examples from the press announcement here).

There are some small catches, though (which can be found at the FAQ): to compile on the Xbox 360, you need an yearly XNA “Creator’s Club” subscription (at $99 it’s much, much cheaper than full-blown devkits); and mostly important, you can’t share the Xbox 360 binaries you compile with regular Xbox users: you need to share the source with other XNA developers so they can compile it themselves.

Even so, this is great news for people that want to learn how to create games (several game development schools have already commited to support the service), or want to develop something that they can later pitch for Xbox Live Arcade publishing (which’s probably going to have a bunch of new games soon). According to one of the XNA developers, they do intend to make binary distribution available on the future, but seem to be testing the grounds before commiting to it.

I more or less share the excitement for this news with the developer mentioned above… too bad Microsoft doesn’t even have a standing position on the Brazilian console market, so acquiring an Xbox is not only ultra-expensive but also frustrating considering we don’t have nearby Live servers or anything of the sort. Still, cool news to watch from a distance.

Coincidentally, Microsoft’s GameFest starts today, so we’ll probably see more news and information about it on the coming days. Like other developers adding support to the technology, so you can reuse their engines under the new service.

Update: Microsoft has just released the beta version of their XNA Games Studio Express.

Other sources: Shacknews, The ZBuffer