Many of our readers are not professional game developers, but do graphics or game programming as a hobby or as part of their academic research. Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio is interesting since it allows free development of Xbox 360 games. To be precise, although the software is free, Xbox 360 development does require a $99/year premium membership – still a bargain compared to the many thousands of dollars required for a professional console development kit. However, the resulting games could only be played by other people with premium memberships – not exactly a mass market.
This week, at Gamefest, Microsoft announced that these “homebrew” games could now be sold to Xbox 360 owners in general. Interestingly, the games will not be selected by Microsoft themselves (although I am sure they will do some gatekeeping) but by the community (similarly to the selection of posts at Digg or Slashdot).