Microsoft to open up Xbox 360 game development

In a bid to create a "YouTube for video games," Microsoft plans to open up game development for the Xbox 360 to the masses. As part of an upcoming "Creators Club" membership on the online Xbox Live service, Microsoft will release a stripped-down version of its XNA development toolkit that will be known as XNA Game Studio Express. The Creators Club membership will cost $99 annually, and aspiring game developers will be able to run the XNA Game Studio Express tools on their PCs and create games that can run on both the Xbox 360 and Windows.

Where current games can take a full team of programmers, designers, and artists several years to complete, the XNA Game Studio Express tools promise to simplify this process significantly thanks in part to GarageGames' Torque Engine. A free game that can be modified by developers will even be included in the package.

Microsoft plans to release the first beta iteration of the XNA Game Studio Express software on August 30. The final release, along with the Xbox Live Creators Club, will follow during the holiday season. Microsoft's plan is eventually to allow indie developers to show off and sell their games on Xbox Live.

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