A game development platform from Microsoft allows anyone to create games for its Xbox 360 console, the company said today.
Typically, console games are designed by large studios that must pay high prices for development kits. Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express is a new kit, to be released in beta form in August, that will be available for free to anyone using a Windows XP PC. The kit is designed for developer novices as well as studios, Microsoft said.
Users will have the option of joining a developer group for $99 (about £54) per year. They will be able to share and test their games with other designers and access information that could help them speed up the development process.
More than ten universities in the US will include the new platform in the curriculum of their game development schools, according to Microsoft.
The software giant has also worked with games software development tool companies to ensure that their tools can be used within the new platform. Autodesk, a provider of 3D authoring software, and GarageGames, a maker of games development software, both said their technologies can be ported to the XNA Game Studio Express platform.
The XNA Game Studio Express development environment is based on Visual Studio Express and .NET, and allows developers to create games simultaneously for Xbox 360 and Windows XP.
Microsoft expects the final non-beta version of the development platform to become available by the end of the year. Another version of XNA Game Studio Express designed for professional game developers will become available in early 2007, the company said.
The Xbox 360 is the second version of the Xbox console, which started selling late last year.