DEVELOP CONFERENCE: XNA boss' keynote outlines future of connected community games

Developers must embrace online, says Satchell

Developers must chase after the opportunities presented by user-generated content and community driven games, Microsoft’s XNA general manager Chris Satchell told Develop conference attendees in the today’s closing keynote.

Offering an overview of how Web 2.0 and new services such as Microsoft’s own Popfly empower consumers of photo and other static content, he mapped out games’ trajectory on a similar line, saying it was time that developers were aware that similar mashup approaches lie in the industry’s future.

"We really do need to get a mashup layer into our industry to get more people engaged," he said, hinting that in future XNA development tools will build on the work done by the Xbox XDX, hobbyist tech XNA Game Studio Express and the new Torque X Game Builder to make sure developers can build experiences that consumers in turn will be able to contribute to with ease.

This in time will help the industry remain at the cutting edge of new ideas, he said: "If you make it easy and let communities take creative risks that helps the industry stay fresh.

"Let’s go after this opportunioty and exhibit the leadershio befre some other meidum starts to take that away from us."

He also outlined the big challenges user-generated content presents – namely, IP rights matters (over developer-created or player-created materials), what happens when players create offensive content, and where the control over creativity will really end up lying. Satchell also demoed some of the titles entered into Microsoft’s Dream Build Play XNA competition – winners of which are to be announced at Gamefest in Seattle next month.

Those problems and others were challenges Microsoft is planning to address in announcements in 2008, but in the meantime Satchell called studios to action to start thinking about how their games and their business will be effected in future and enjoy the creative and commercial benefits. He added: "You’ve got to embrace the change."

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