Microsoft Releases XNA Game Studio Express Beta

Microsoft has announced that the public beta of XNA Game Studio Express, its free XNA-based development environment for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Xbox 360, has been released for free download. The software is derived from Visual C# Express 2005, and is tailored specifically towards cross-platform game development. The game "Spacewar" is included as an example for game creators.

Game developer and middleware provider GarageGames also announced that it will begin accepting applications for its upcoming Torque X, an XNA-compatible version of its own Torque engines including Torque Shader Engine and Torque Game Builder. GarageGames hopes that the full release of Torque X will align with the release of the final version fo XNA Game Studio Express, planned for this holiday season. For more on GarageGames' plans, check out our interview.

XNA Game Studio Express allows enthusiast developers to create and compile Windows games for no charge. To export games to Xbox 360, users will be required to join the XNA Creators Club for a membership fee of $99/year or $49 for a four month trial period. This membership is also required to run other creators' games on Xbox 360. In the longer term, Microsoft hopes to offer an online service through which developers can sell the games they have created with XNA Game Studio Express via Xbox Live.