Microsoft Does ?Who wants to be a Game Designer??

It is almost as though Microsoft looked at Apple’s Garage Band and said, hmmm, what a great idea, what if we applied it go games?   I mean how cool would it be to quickly and easily be able to create your own kick ass game, and turn around to sell it for money.   The “easily” part I’m sure will be relative, as we will likely see a great deal of junk result from this. However, so many great ideas are lost because it is very difficult to take an idea or concept and turn it into something someone else can get excited about.     The product is called XNA Game Studio Express. OK, the name kind of sucks when you compare it to “Garage Band,” but “Garage Games” was taken. Personally, I think it would have been very wise to drop the XNA part, but if you can get by the name, the concept is actually very appealing.    What is of particular interest about this service, and it is more service than software, is that at the outset it creates a network of people who will eventually be able to help design, create, and sell a quality gaming product that will play on an Xbox or a PC. In some cases, both!   It is easy to see that most of the people who may want to develop a game won’t even know where to start; this is where the network and service come in.   Showcasing what is likely the future of packaged software, the product is free, but the service will come with an affordable annual fee. In addition, the real value is in the service because that’s where you’ll get the knowledge needed to use the tool. Current professionals won’t need the service, but it is likely that they will also have outgrown the tool so there shouldn’t be a lot of free rides.    Danger to Sony   Think of the danger to Sony or Nintendo if this takes off.   These games won’t run on those systems. It also adds a dimension to Microsoft’s platforms that the others lack, one of creation.   If you don’t like the games you’re seeing on the Xbox you can write your own and sell them. Imagine how much parents may actually like that part.   Having a game system that actually generates revenue, rather than simply drilling a never ending hole in my pocket, would be a huge incentive to buy Xbox or a PC over a Sony or Nintendo.    The real danger is that Microsoft will get better user feedback through the service than they do now from gamers who are also trying to develop cool games.   If they listen, and listening can be a big problem for any big company, the result should be vast customer focused improvements to what they have; improvements that Sony and Nintendo will probably never even know are possible.   Long Term   If this is successful, Nintendo and Sony will have to respond, and neither is known for their “easy to use” developer tools. I understand that the tools Sony has for the Cell are particularly ugly.   This could force both companies to better resource their own tools, or seek a partner that is actually good at building software tools. Better tools typically mean more good games, regardless of the platform, which is good for all gamers.      As mentioned above, this showcases a future for all software in terms of how it is purchased and probably the best defense for piracy.   If the product is free and the value is in the service, what’s the point of pirating the product? In addition, a service ensures the continued contact between a customer and a developer. That contact generally results (at least it does in business where this is more common) in products that do a better job of addressing customer needs than most packaged products that don’t have strong user groups.   We are also beginning to see the emergence of the new Microsoft built more on collaboration than the IBM/DEC model the old Microsoft was based on. I’m thinking that too looks like it will be a positive step.  

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Product Review

Acer Predator Triton 500 review

Nvidia’s new RTX 2080 Max-Q is the fastest GPU you’ll find in any laptop, but it usually comes at a steep price. Acer’s Predator Triton 500, starting at $2,500, makes it a little more affordable. But what must you sacrifice in the…
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

Reach the platinum plateau by learning all there is to know about PS4 trophies

The PlayStation 4 rewards you with trophies for your achievements in various games. Here's what you need to know about PS4 trophies, including how to earn them and the different trophy levels.
Gaming

Logitech’s newest headsets sound as good as they look, but they’re not perfect

Logitech's G935 and G432 bring style and impressive sound to the table. They boast leatherette earpads, positional 3D sound, and 50mm drivers, Logitech has become a formidable adversary for competitors, but the company's new headsets aren't…
Gaming

EA is losing out on the true potential of Titanfall studio with ‘Apex Legends’

Apex Legends is a solid battle royale game, but one can’t shake the feeling that its creation was dictated by Respawn’s new owners: Electronic Arts. In the process, the studio’s soul could be lost.
Computing

In the age of Alexa and Siri, Cortana’s halo has grown dim

In a sea of voice assistants, Cortana has become almost irrelevant. The nearly five-year-old voice assistant is seeing little love from consumers, and here’s why it is dead.
Gaming

The 'Anthem' demo's crash landing raises more questions than answers

Bioware bravely allowed gamers to see a large chunk of 'Anthem' over two demo weekends, but it backfired. Lackluster missions, performance issues, and muddled messaging over micro-transactions leaves the game with an uphill battle.
Gaming

Apex Legends proves battle royale is no fad. In fact, it’s just getting started

Apex Legends came out of nowhere to take the top spot as battle royale in 2019, and it now looks as if it'll be the biggest game of the year. Its sudden success proves the battle royale fad still has plenty of life left in it.
Home Theater

Apple is arming up to redefine TV just like it did the phone

Curious about what Apple's answer to Netflix will be? Us too. So we combed through some patents, and looked at the landscape, to come up with a bold prediction: Apple's streaming service will be way bigger than anyone thinks.
Home Theater

How the headphone jack helps Samsung out-Apple the king

Samsung’s latest flagship phones and wearables unveiled at the Galaxy Unpacked event had plenty of exciting new tech. But one of the most useful features Samsung revealed is also the oldest: The mighty headphone jack.
Gaming

Age of Empires II thrives 20 years later. Here's what Anthem could learn from it

Age Of Empires II is approaching its 20th birthday. It has a loyal following that has grown over the past five years. New always-online games like Anthem would love to remain relevant for so long, but they have a problem. They're just not…
Gaming

Devil May Cry is Fantastic, but I still want a DmC: Devil May Cry sequel

Capcom's Devil May Cry 5 is one of the best games of 2019 and a welcome return for the series, but its success should not discount just how wonderful Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry really was.
Smart Home

Alexa may be everywhere, but it’s Google’s Assistant I want in my home. Here’s why

The Amazon Alexa may have the Google Home beat in quantity of skills and compatibility with other products, but does that really matter when Alexa falls flat for day-to-day conversation?