During the keynote address today at the Gamefest 2008 Microsoft Game Technology Conference, Microsoft revealed that it will allow anyone to turn the hobby of game-making into a full-fledged career.
Through what is now officially called "Xbox LIVE Community Games," Microsoft makes its marketplace of millions available to members of the XNA Creators Club to create, sell and share in the profits generated by their unique creations.
Microsoft began offering game production tools in 2006 to amateurs and hobbyists under an initiative called "XNA," which allowed developers to create a game that could run on the Xbox, a Windows-based computer or its Zune media player.
User-created content is the backbone of many advertising-supported Web sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
Facebook and YouTube provide a forum for new software applications and videos for free, but they do not share advertising fees with users.
Microsoft, however, requires the prospective video game developer to buy a $99-a-year premium membership to the XNA Creators Club, but offers a slice of the revenue.
The games will be sold on the Xbox Live Marketplace at three different prices -- the equivalent of $2.50, $5 or $10 -- using Microsoft points.
In order to get the game into the Xbox Live store, the games must pass a peer-review system.
"Not only are we democratizing game development with Xbox Live Community Games later this year, but we're creating an opportunity for aspiring developers," Chris Satchell, chief technology officer at Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business group, said in a news release
Microsoft expects the games created by users will double the number of games available for the Xbox 360 when the Community Games section of its Xbox Live online store comes out of "beta," mode in the fall.