Gamasutra has just pre-announced that Microsoft will be releasing the first beta of XNA Game Studio Express at the end of August for ‘free’ (wait for it…), which will be an extention of C# Express and will allow anyone to write games and applications (nah, just games ;)) for the XBox 360.
Now what’s that about it being free, you ask? No. It’s not free.
You have to pay a 100$/yr to enter a “creators’ club” so that you could “build, test and share” your game (you get a bonus of pre-made stuff to download and use in your game; not bad).
I really like the idea of being able to create my own games for the XBox 360. I can’t remember the last time I heard about a console company distinctly calling homebrewers to try and write games for its product. I can, however, recall the exact opposite.
If this is really going to take off, I would like to make a few predictions for the coming months (years?):
- A group of hackers will find a way around the limitation (i.e. need to pay) presented by the “creators’ club” and allow people to deploy and test freely.
- Several open source / free frameworks will be released. At least one of the free frameworks will be released by a commercial developer (failed game?).
- An open source repository (sourceforge?) will start housing dozens of projects for the platform.
- Due to the fact that development and deployment is now free (see 1), the XBox 360 will have a plethora of small, fan made games with horrible quality, much like the Flash scene on today’s web, where real gems are hard to find.
- A Visual Basic Express version will be contemplated but not released.
[Update: Lots more info on Dan Fernandez’s Blog.]
[This post has been written using Windows Live Writer (beta). Pretty slick tool – I like.]