Microsoft has recently announced that they will soon be releasing the first beta of Microsoft XNA Game Studio Express, a low cost development kit for the PC and XBox 360 games aimed at students and hobbyists.
The beta will only support PC game development (for security reasons). There will be a free version version of the studio will only allow PC game creation, and by paying a reasonable enough $99/year subscription you can access the online collaboration community and port your games to a 360 (hard drive required).
Initially games developed for the XBox 360 will only be available to other developers, but it seems MS is planning on integrating a Youtube-style site for downloading these things and (for PC versions only) it seems OK to use for commercial software.
I’m not sure how powerful the game environment will be. The MS VP, Peter Moore, who announced this described the games that users would be able to produce as “rudimentary”, and I do sincerely hope this isn’t going to basically be a Klik-n-Play sort of thing. Happily the FAQ on the subject seems to suggests that there will be some deal of “proper” programming capability to the concept, with C# and the .NET compact framework, etc.
Early days yet. I am certainly going to be downloading the beta, and I’ll be sure to post some more detail once I’ve had a chance to look around.
This could be good, it could be meh-worthy. I guess we’ll all know more on August 30.