Entitled XNA Game Studio Express, Microsoft´s new homebrew package is basically a downgraded and streamlined version of the professional XNA kits.
Compatible with both Windows OS based computers and the Xbox 360, the program can be used to create original content playable on either or both platforms. However, even with Microsoft´s new software, creating homemade software isn´t exactly free, the XNA Game Studio Express for the 360 will be tagged at 99 USD for an annual subscription or 49.99 for 4 months – PC-development is free of charge. The XNA Game Studio Express is just one more step that Microsoft is taking towards emphasizing the role of the independent game development community.
Enthusiastic as always, Microsoft´s Peter Moore commented ”It´s our first step of creating a YouTube for video games,” he said and continued ”it will give you everything you need to bring your game to life on Xbox 360.” More than 10 universities are already planning to use the software in their fall development curricula, and Moore hopes to see it in use at highschools as well. Microsoft has also been discussing the possibilities of Live Marketplace distribution of homemade games since the 360 launch, so expect to hear more of these possibilities in the not so distant future.
The beta version of XNA Game Studio Express will launch come the end of this month. The final version is scheduled for a holiday season launch.