Microsoft will soon be allowing Xbox Live members to play, rate and share community-created games, giving rise to a whole new wave of home-grown games developers.
Parallel to this development the company also revealed sequels to its popular Gears of War and Fable franchises.
Last year, Microsoft made the landmark decision to make its XNA Games Studio 2.0 games creation software available for download online from its Xbox Live platform, which has over 10 million users.
This will make it possible for fledgling games creators at home or in college, rather than in the large studios, to create their own games and sell them online – potentially giving rise to a major creative movement.
At a keynote address at the annual Games Developers Conference in San Francisco, the corporate vice-president of Live, software and service for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, John Schappert, said: “The time has come for the games industry to open its doors to all games creators, enabling anyone to share their creations with the world.
“Our goal is to drive a creative and social revolution in games with the same transformative power that we’ve seen in digital music and video sharing.”
From today, seven games will be immediately available to download from Xbox Live, including: JellyCar, a car-racing game; Little Gamers, based on the famous web comic; The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, an action game; TriLinea, a strategy puzzle game; RocketBall, a street-smart dodgeball game; ProximityHD, a military strategy game; and Culture, a puzzle game based on beautiful flowers.
Microsoft had other tricks up its sleeve at the conference with the news that Gears of War 2, the next instalment in a franchise that has already achieved more than 4.5 million sales, will be released in November exclusively to Xbox 360.
Fantasy game Fable 2 will come out later this year with an interesting twist. Fable 2 pub games will debut on Xbox Live Arcade and players will be able to transfer the currency earned in the pub games directly to their character in Fable 2 while playing at home.
2008 will also see the introduction of a new Xbox 360 game that will be solely available for download on Xbox Live – Ninja Gaiden II.
Breath-taking visuals will be the key selling point of forthcoming fantasy game Too Human, which will see gamers treated to a non-stop barrage of action powered by the seamless integration of melee and firearms combat.
By John Kennedy