Thoughts on XNA Game Studio Express

August 14, 2006

Back when the Xbox 360 was announced, J. Allard and Robbie Bach also talked about a new development platform called “XNA”, designed to make it easier to build games Xbox and Windows PCs, sharing much of the same high performance code. A series of tools announcements were made and then frankly, we didn’t hear much more in the general tech ‘sphere. Until now.

XNA Game Studio Express will be unveiled today at Gamefest, an annual event Microsoft holds. Until we have a public demonstration, here’s a little snippet about XNA Game Studio:

XNA Game Studio Express will democratize game development by delivering the necessary tools to hobbyists, students, indie developers and studios alike to help them bring their creative game ideas to life while nurturing game development talent, collaboration and sharing that will benefit the entire industry.

Stripping away the PR-speak, these tools are being developed specifically with Game developers in mind. The Express moniker is also used in Microsoft developer tools such as Visual Studio Express and SQL Express to denote fully functional but slightly less industrial-grade versions focused on students, hobbyists, and the like.

Some call it “democratization of the game platform”. Ick. What’s cool about this announce is that the same way YouTube and GarageBand.com are opening up the doors to indie video, film, and music creators, this will do the same for gaming for the first time. Up until now, you had to be a game publisher paying thousands of dollars just to get your foot in the door to do serious development for game consoles. It will be a trickle at first, but this is a disruptive technology that has the potential to revolutionize game development similar to when a few hard-core enthusiasts built a little game called, “Doom”. Think about all the games that could be developed that never would have seen the light of day because, “some suit” said it didn’t test well in a focus group. I think the flood gates have just opened.

Update0: The XNA team has posted their blog here. More details to come soon 😉