Write Games for the XBox 360, without a publisher!
This is absolutely HUGE news.
Microsoft just announced that with XNA Game Studio Express (free) and Creators Club ($99/year), anyone can write games for the XBox 360 and share them with other members of the Creators Club. Later, other XBox 360 users will have access to the content, too! BAM! As someone who writes unfinished games about once a year to share with friends, I’m really excited! Even more, I’m excited to see games from established independent software developers popping up on the 360!
Let’s hope the other console manufacturers follow! I’d LOVE to see freely available independent games for the Wii!
Update: Ouch! The procedure for game sharing is much more involved than just asking your audience to pay the fee. From the FAQ:
Q: How exactly can I share my 360 game to other 360 users? Will my game only be available to people with the XNA “Creators Club” subscription? Will it be available to all 360 users that have an Xbox Live account?
A: There is currently no supported way to share binaries on the Xbox 360. Currently, there are four requirements that must be met in order to share a game targeting Xbox 360 which is developed with XNA Game Studio Express.
1. The individual you are planning to share the game with must be logged in to Xbox Live and have an active subscription to the XNA Creators Club
2. The receiving user must have downloaded the XNA Framework runtime environment for the Xbox 360
3. The receiving user must have XNA Game Studio Express installed on their own development PC
4. The game project, including all source and content assets, must be shared with the receiving user. The receiving user then compiles and deploys the game to their Xbox 360.
This is definitely cool, but I’m still trying to figure out how cool.
First, it’s all managed C#. I understand their concern about the ability to distribute non-approved content to other XBox360 users, so requiring people to write to a safe target makes a lot of sense. There’s no networking right now (they say they may add it), and I’d imagine there are a number of other restrictions for security reasons.
Next, distribution is source-based right now: you have to distribute the source, and other people have to build it. You can’t just send your friend a binary over XBL.
Furthermore, I haven’t seen any discussion of a payment system once they remove the distribution restrictions. Established indies want to get paid. 🙂
I’m very encouraged to see MS announce this program. Assuming it continues to get a good level of support from them, I see a lot of these hurdles going away. A friendly distribution system seems at odds with their tightly-controlled once-a-week XBLA approach, however, so let’s hope the forces of good prevail in that conflict!
What do you think the chances are of an exploit through this, or free content undercutting the paid XBL Arcade service?