Microsoft to Offer Software To Make Game Creation Easier

Link (paid reg required): WSJ.com – Microsoft to Offer Software To Make Game Creation Easier.

SEATTLE — Making console videogames has long been the turf of sophisticated professional game developers. Now Microsoft Corp., in a nod to YouTube, MySpace and other popular sources of user-generated content, says it wants to turn ordinary players into console game makers.

Later this month, Microsoft plans to introduce a test version of software that it says will dramatically simplify the creation of basic games for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console. The novice game makers that are the intended audience for the software, called XNA Game Studio Express, aren’t likely to create games of the caliber of Halo and Madden football, both blockbuster game franchises that took millions of dollars to make. But there’s also a growing following among Xbox 360 users for simpler games that can be downloaded from Microsoft’s Xbox Live online-gaming service, including a hit space shooting game called Geometry Wars.

Peter Moore, the Microsoft corporate vice president who leads the company’s game efforts, said Microsoft’s goal is to make creation of Xbox 360 game as easy as "drag and drop," using simple mouse and menu commands familiar to average users of a Windows PC. Mr. Moore said his objective is to engage Xbox 360 users in the creation of games the way sites like YouTube have given rise to countless amateur movie makers. "We’re seeing a desire for rawer content, where you can put your hand up and say, ‘I made this,’" Mr. Moore said in an interview.

I’ve been thinking for a while that one possible remedy for the lack of creativity and tedious sequel-itis in game design has been to figure out a way to make it easier for people to create games and bring them to market. Wonder if this will change the game?

Update: Here’s a link to the NY Times version of this story, which only requires a registration, not a fee.