In an unprecedented move Microsoft have anounced that anyone with US$99, a Window XP-based PC, and the nerve to develop can create games for the Xbox 360 using Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express development tool.
Typically, console games are designed by large studios that must pay high prices to buy development kits in order to write games for consoles. Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express is a new development kit, to be released in beta form in August, that will be available for free to anyone using a Windows XP PC. The kit is designed for game developer novices as well as studios, Microsoft said.
Users will have the option of joining a developers group for US$99 (AU$130) per year in which they can share and test their games with other designers and access information that could help them speed up the development process.
A number of American universities have been the first to jump on the XNA Game Studio bandwagon, including the University of Southern California, Georgia Tech College of Computing and Southern Methodist University Guildhall. The schools will include the new platform in the curricula of their game development classes, according to Microsoft.
The XNA Game Studio Express development environment is based on Visual Studio Express and .NET, and allows developers to create games simultaneously for Xbox 360 and Windows XP.
Microsoft expects the final non-beta version of the development platform to become available by the end of the year. Another version of XNA Game Studio Express designed for professional game developers will become available in early 2007, the company said.
Additional reporting by Nancy Gohring