Microsoft XNA to be retired, casting doubt on Xbox Live Indie Games

The XNA runtime environment is being retired by Microsoft, the company has revealed. The goal of XNA was to enable easier development of games on Microsoft platforms, such as Xbox 360 and PC. XNA Game Studio helped aspiring indie developers release games via the Xbox Live Indie Games channel.

"XNA Game Studio remains a supported toolset for developing games for Xbox 360, Windows and Windows Phone," a Microsoft representative told Polygon. "Many developers have found financial success creating Xbox LIVE Indie Games using XNA. However, there are no plans for future versions of the XNA product." The program will be retired on April 1st, 2014.

Some noteworthy games to utilize XNA are Fez and Skulls of the Shogun. However, the discontinuation of XNA suggests that Microsoft may be disinterested in renewing its indie games program for the next-generation Xbox. "No-one wants to learn a dying technology, and a big part of XNA's appeal was the prospect of selling a game on Xbox LIVE, even if that wasn't the most commercially-sensible thing to do," a source told CVG. "If there are no advocates of the technology, and we infer from the lack of internal support in Microsoft that there will be no XBLIG on the next-gen machine, there is no-one to drive XNA adoption and no incentive to learn it."

Microsoft has been oft criticized for its lackluster support of the indie service, with few games able to make any significant amount of money. Given its sluggish performance across multiple metrics, the decision to abandon XNA isn't entirely surprising.

It appears the future of game development on Microsoft platforms will be exclusively on DirectX. Speaking to Polygon, a Microsoft rep said that "Microsoft is actively investing in DirectX as the unified graphics foundation for all of our platforms, including Windows, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone."