Xbox 360 will challenge the recently launched Nintendo WiiWare and Apple AppStore distribution channels when it starts allowing XNA Creators Club members to sell their homebrew games via Live later this year.
The move, announced this morning at the Gamefest conference in Seattle, “completes the picture” Microsoft has been painting with its XNA initiative Boyd Multerer, group manager of the firm’s developers services division, told the attendant 1,200 developers.
Four years in the making according to Microsoft CTO Chris Satchell, the new system will allow Xbox Community Games – titles uploaded to the new Xbox Live channel announced at GDC earlier this year – to be bought at one of three price points; 200, 400 or 800 Microsoft Points.
Developers selling their games will get a 70 per cent slice of all revenues made.
“We want all creators to be able to participate in the billion dollar game industry,” said Multerer.
“This is a big deal – we want people to create a lot of content, put it through the system and make a lot of money.”
The service will roll out in the USA, Canada, UK, France, Italy and Spain later this year as part of the Xbox 360 dashboard revamp. A new XNA game store front will be added along side the usual Xbox Live Arcade channel and will be designed to spotlight key or popular homebrew games.
Microsoft is also revamping its Xbox.com storefront so users can select content at their PC, pay for it and queue it for download to their consoles.
“The web is a great place to look through lots of content. You can take the URL for that piece of content and send it to your friends,” added Multerer, saying that he hopes XNA games can become viral phenomena like YouTube videos.
Multerer added that, in comparison to Xbox Live Arcade, the XNA Creators games are “the minor leagues” of games development, creating an accessible and vibrant talentbase that will support the whole industry.
“This is where you can experiment. There will be good games and bad games. And these developers can graduate to professional leagues of Xbox Live Arcade and event triple-A development.
“And it’s a great way for you professional developers to identify good talent that can help your studio.”