LONDON - During the keynote address today at the Gamefest 2008 Microsoft Game Technology Conference, Microsoft Corp. revealed that it will allow anyone to turn the hobby of game-making into a full-fledged career. Through what is now officially called "Xbox LIVE Community Games," Microsoft makes its marketplace of millions available to members of the XNA Creators Club to create, sell and share in the profits generated by their unique creations.
Microsoft has already opened up game development to the masses by offering the easy-to-use, affordable XNA Game Studio toolset. With this newly announced business model, Microsoft will have truly democratised game distribution by enabling XNA Creators Club members to participate in the multibillion-dollar-a-year console gaming industry.
Newly appointed to his role as Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business Group Chris Satchell said the business model was designed to create the best possible experience for both consumers and developers. Community games that have been submitted by XNA Creators Club Premium members and have successfully passed a rigorous peer-review system will be added to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace catalogue for sale to consumers. Creators will be able to choose from three suggested preset retail price points varying from 200 to 800 Microsoft Points to sell their creations and will receive up to 70 percent of the total revenue generated by their game.
"Not only are we democratising game development with Xbox LIVE Community Games later this year, but we're creating an opportunity for aspiring developers to start their careers on the world stage," Satchell said. "It is really a win for both developers and consumers because this will no doubt act as an incentive for game creators to continue to develop the best, most innovative games for Xbox 360."
A host of new and creative ideas are already appearing on the Xbox LIVE Community Games beta. When the service launches for consumers this fall, community-created games on Xbox LIVE are expected to double the size of the Xbox 360 video game library, offering some of the most inventive, quirky and unexpected games ever seen on consoles. By the end of 2008, Xbox 360 owners are expected to have access to the largest, most creatively diverse game library across all next-generation platforms, with more than 1,000 titles spanning Community Games, Xbox LIVE Arcade and retail blockbuster titles.
When the bold new Xbox experience, a re-launch of the largest online social network on TV that is fun and approachable, is released late this fall, the Community Games storefront will be an easy-to-use addition to the existing marketplace on Xbox LIVE. The new Community Games channel is currently scheduled to launch in the United States, Canada and select European markets later this year. Other regions will be added over the course of 2009 and beyond. Consumers will also be able to view and rate community games on Xbox.com, watch trailers, and even play a trial of each game before buying it.
"Since first launching XNA Game Studio in 2006, we have been working hard on improving the toolset and building resources for the community, and the response has been amazing. To date, we've had more than 1 million downloads of XNA Game Studio and adoption in more than 700 universities," said Boyd Multerer, general manager of XNA. "For some perspective, the incredible creative community we've unleashed worldwide is more than 25 times the number of professional developers in the industry."
Microsoft also is giving aspiring developers a hand with the second annual Dream-Build-Play game development contest based on XNA Game Studio projects. The competition will yield prizes in excess of $70,000 and an opportunity for one of the winners to sign an Xbox LIVE Arcade publishing contract. Three of last year's top performers and winners, "The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai," "Blazing Birds" and "Yo Ho Kablammo!" from the United States, Canada, Sweden and United Kingdom, respectively, are all slated for release on Xbox LIVE Arcade in the near future.