Homebrew Toolset Announced For Xbox 360

Speaking at Gamefest 2006, Microsoft’s Game Developer Group General Manager, Chris Satchell, has confirmed that Winter 2006 will see the release of XNA Game Studio Express, a free to downloadable toolset for Windows XP and Xbox 360 development. Although the software itself will be available free of charge, Microsoft also confirmed that a “creator’s club” subscription will allow gamers to build, test, and share their games on Xbox 360.

XNA Game Studio Express will ignite innovation and accelerate prototyping, forever changing the way games are developed,” said Satchell. “By unlocking retail Xbox 360 consoles for community-created games, we are ushering in a new era of cross-platform games based on the XNA platform. We are looking forward to the day when all the resulting talent-sharing and creativity transforms into a thriving community of user-created games on Xbox 360.”

Great game ideas are incubating in the minds of students everywhere,” said Michael Zyda, Director for Gamepipe Labs at the University of Southern California. “With XNA Game Studio Express, Microsoft is investing in these next-generation innovators, creating the canvas for dreamers to express their powerful game ideas. In incorporating XNA Game Studio Express and Xbox 360 consoles into our Gamepipe program, USC will be able to better provide game studios and publishers around the world with a newfound wellspring of talent and opportunity. It’s ingenious.

Marble Blast Ultra developer, GarageGames, has pledged its support for the toolset, confirming that its Torque Shader Engine and Torque Game Builder 2-D toolset will be integrated into XNA Game Studio Express.

“The GarageGames mission has always been to provide top-tier technology, tools and community to independent and aspiring game developers,” said Josh Williams, CEO of GarageGames. “We are excited that Microsoft is demonstrating leadership by taking the revolutionary step of opening up game development for Xbox 360 to hobbyists and students. In aligning our tools and technology with XNA Game Studio Express, we’re helping even more individuals with the creativity and drive to make video games bring them to life on both Windows XP and Xbox 360.”

The move by Microsoft is in sharp contrast to Sony’s strategy to shut out homebrew development on PSP. We Will see what happens one XNA Game Studio Express Beta is released on August 30th 2006.