Microsoft Releases XNA Game Studio Express

Following up on its beta release last August, Microsoft has released its XNA Game Studio Express, enabling Windows XP-based developers to try their hand at rolling out games for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming system. Microsoft has also taken the wraps off the XNA Creators Club, a subscription-based service which offers a community of developers, game-building resources, and a Dream-Build-Play game development contest.

“Xbox Live Arcade has opened up a wealth of new publishing opportunities for established and independent developers alike, so it made perfect sense to also extend this privilege to hobbyists and amateur programmers,” said Greg Canessa, group manager of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade, in a statement. “We have a tremendous opportunity to shine the spotlight on up-and-coming talent through the ‘Dream-Build-Play’ contest, and we can’t wait to share their creativity with our gaming community around the world.”

XNA Game Studio enables aspiring game developers to create games and other content for use on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game consoles using Windows XP PCs. While XNA Game Studio isn’t a drag-and-drop game-creation environment—really, if you want to make a game, you’re going to have to code—it does provide a bevy of tools and resources for manageing game development and compiling for the Xbox 360.

The XNA Creators Club will be a subscription-based service ($49 for four months, $99 for a year), providing aspiring game authors with access to development tools, white papers, samples, starter kits, technical support, and “thousands of game assets” from Microsoft and partners such as Turbo Squid, Inc.

“The XNA Creators Club is really the first of its kind—an opportunity to join a community of other developers who are empowered to bring their game ideas to life on a next-generation console system,” said Chris Satchell, general manager of Microsoft’s Game Developer Group. “When it comes to encouraging development on XNA Game Studio Express and through the XNA Creators Club, the limits are truly endless. What users will see today is just the beginning of the plans we have to revolutionize game development one creative game idea at a time.”

XNA Creators Club members will also be able to enter a ‘Dream-Build-Play’ contest beginning in January, which offers developers a chance to showcase their creations; the winner gets a chance for their game to be published on Xbox Live Arcade.

So if you think you can build a better shoot’em-up—or, please, even just a decent team-based word game—sign up!

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