New XNA Game Studio 2.0 from Microsoft Enables Creation of Online Multiplayer Games Using LIVE

LONDON, 12th December, 2007— Microsoft Corp. today marked the next step in its initiative to democratise game development and unleash the creativity of the community with the release of the XNA Game Studio 2.0, the next generation of the popular game development platform for Xbox 360 and Windows. The new version builds upon XNA Game Studio Express, released one year ago, and includes the ability to create online, cross-platform multiplayer games for Xbox 360 and Windows using Xbox LIVE and Games for Windows - LIVE, respectively. XNA Game Studio 2.0 adds more than 15 new features and is available for download from http://creators.xna.com.

“When building XNA Game Studio 2.0, we wanted to offer everyone the opportunity to utilise the rich gaming environment of LIVE used by AAA developers for titles such as‘Halo 3’ and‘Gears of War,’” said Chris Satchell, general manager of the XNA organization at Microsoft.“We accomplished our goal with this new toolset, and, best of all, it remains highly accessible to students, hobbyists and pros alike.”

Many of LIVE’s best features are supported by XNA Game Studio 2.0 with minimal to no coding necessary to activate them - features like matchmaking, which uses LIVE to find the best games for you to play based on your location and internet connection. Additionally, XNA Game Studio 2.0 fully supports game development with all versions of the Microsoft Visual Studio product line.

XNA Creators Club Academic Trial Memberships Now Free to Qualified Students and Faculty

Since its release last December, XNA Game Studio has been an incredible success, with 750,000 downloads, adoption by more than 300 universities worldwide and at least nine textbooks on the tools in development. In subjects from computer science to fine arts, introductory courses to graduate and research projects - XNA Game Studio is helping faculty members and students explore the boundaries of applied gaming technology in education. Along with XNA Game Studio 2.0, Microsoft will also provide a free academic trial membership in the XNA Creators Club beginning in January, allowing faculty members and students to use XNA Game Studio 2.0 and Xbox 360 for instructional purposes.

Time to Dream-Build-Play Again

From more than 4,500 entrants from around the world, four community games were awarded Xbox LIVE Arcade publishing contracts in this year’s Dream-Build-Play game development competition. Microsoft will once again challenge aspiring game developers to create their dream games for a chance to win more coveted publishing contracts. This week Microsoft kicks off registration for Dream-Build-Play 2008 with the Silicon Minds Warm-Up Challenge. Registration begins on 14th December and winners will be announced at the Game Developers Conference where details of the main challenge will be announced. Run in partnership with Microsoft Research’s Machine Learning Group in Cambridge, England; Rare Ltd.; and Lionhead Studios, prizes for the Warm-Up Challenge will include the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview for an internship with one of those organizations.

“Artificial intelligence is so important to the games we make at Lionhead Studios, and we are very excited to see what the community can come up with in this Warm-Up Challenge to Dream-Build-Play 2008,” said Peter Molyneux, managing director at Lionhead Studios.“We are always on the lookout for the best talent and believe that XNA Game Studio 2.0 will be a great platform for contestants to showcase their skills on.” More information about Dream-Build-Play 2008 is available at http://www.dreambuildplay.com.

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Notes to Editors:

For further information please contact:

Kate Szlendak / 0118 909 5334 / v-kaszle@microsoft.com

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