Microsoft Ships Free Xbox 360 Developer Tool

This week, Microsoft shipped its Xbox 360 game developer tool, XNA Game Studio Express 1.0. The product, which lets anyone with a Windows XP-based PC and software development skills develop games that can run on the Xbox 360, was first announced last August.

XNA Game Studio Express 1.0 is free and based on the Visual C# Express Edition tool, which is itself based on Microsoft's high-end Visual Studio 2005 development suite. Developers who wish to publish games they create with the suite can join the XNA Creators Club, which costs $99 for an annual subscription.

"The XNA Creators Club is really the first of its kind," says Microsoft General Manager Chris Satchell. "\[It's\] an opportunity to join a community of other developers who are empowered to bring their game ideas to life on a next-generation console system. The limits are truly endless. What users will see today is just the beginning of the plans we have to revolutionize game development one creative game idea at a time."

Microsoft is also hosting a game-creation contest called "Dream-Build-Play." The winning game entry in the contest will be published on Xbox Live Arcade, a part of Microsoft's Xbox Live online service, which will allow Xbox 360 users all over the world to play the winning game.

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