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In an announcement during the keynote address at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC), Microsoft Corp. promised to soon allow Xbox Live members to play, rate and share community-created games. The games may be free or inexpensive, the company indicated. The new titles will primarily target casual gamers, which may boost popularity of the Xbox 360 gaming platform.

“The time has come for the games industry to open its doors to all game 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,” said John Schappert, corporate vice president of Live, software and services for the interactive entertainment business at Microsoft.

Community-created games on Xbox Live will quickly double the size of the Xbox 360 game library, Microsoft indicated. By the end of 2008, Xbox 360 owners will have access to more than 1000 games, making it the largest, most creatively diverse library across all next-generation platforms, the software giant promised.

User-created games are not something completely new to the video game industry. Many of modern titles are shipped with special tools to modify them and/or create completely new levels or even titles. However, such levels are usually created by hardcore gamers for hardcore gamers. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether casual gamers will appreciate community-made simplistic games.

Demonstrating a look into the future potential of community-created games on Xbox 360, Chris Satchell, general manager and chief XNA architect at Microsoft, announced that seven games created using XNA Game Studio 2.0 would be available immediately for Xbox 360 owners to download from Xbox Live Marketplace:

  • “JellyCar.” Created by Walaber from the United States, this game is about driving a squishy car through squishy worlds, trying to reach the exit.
  • “Little Gamers.” This is a 2D high-definition action side-scroller based on the famous Web comic “Little Gamers” created by Loïc Dansart, a 24-year-old software developer from Belgium.
  • “The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.” An intense 2D action platform game created by James Silva from the United States, “The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai” has a unique, highly stylized look and fast and fluid action.
  • “TriLinea.” This puzzle game created by Edison S. Prata Jr., Renato Pelizzari da Silva and Davi da Silva Prata from Brazil mixes fast-paced action with strategy.
  • “RocketBall.” Created by Tyler Wanlass, Patrick Murty and Todd Barrons of the United States, this neighborhood game of dodgeball explodes onto the street with fast-paced multiplayer action.
  • “ProximityHD.” This game, created by Brian Cable from the United States, takes the essence of strategy games – battles for control of territory and armies – and distills it down to a simple, easy-to-understand set of rules for casual players.
  • “Culture.” Created by independent game development company Hidden Path Entertainment from the United States, “Culture” contains challenging games and puzzles based on beautiful flowers.

An Xbox 360 community game created using Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio software and XNA Creators Club membership will be able to be submitted for distribution on Xbox Live. Each community-created game must then undergo a thorough peer-review process and be evaluated for accuracy in representation and appropriateness. Community game developers will be able to beta test the process this spring and will be able to distribute their games on Xbox Live by the end of this year.

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