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Feature: 'XNA In-Depth: Microsoft's Dave Mitchell'

For today's Gamasutra feature we talk with Microsoft's Dave Mitchell, who reveals extensive de...
For today's Gamasutra feature we talk with Microsoft's Dave Mitchell, who reveals extensive details on the recently-launched XNA Studio Express and Creators Club, including IP rights, engine specifics, and Xbox 360 universal sharing plans, in this exclusive Gamasutra interview. Mitchell, who says that the guiding light behind the Creator's Club initiative lies in its tagline, "YouTube for Games," says that beyond simply enabling new and hobbyist developers to create the game of their dreams, Microsoft hopes to create a viable business model to help that developer reap financial rewards for their creativity: "We want to bake in a business model that allows the community of game developers to realize some revenue. If your game is able to garner millions of people downloading and playing it and enjoying the game, our fundamental belief and design philosophy of “YouTube for Games” is going to be building out a revenue share type of model where if millions of people are playing, you should be able to drive into work or school or wherever you might be going in a brand new shiny Ferrari, or getting enough funds to invest in paying back college tuition, or setting up college tuition for your children, if that's the case. But we really want to build it in such a way where there is a revenue payout scheme that's taken into consideration, and we make it more inclusive of the creators who are adding value back into that community." And though plans for how these community created games might be distributed will continue to evolve and solidify over the coming year, Mitchell explains some of Microsoft's current thinking: "Right now we are working on the specific implementation of how this stuff will play out. What we're looking to do is take absolute advantage of the fantastic infrastructural in Xbox Live that we have today today and the 4 million subscribers that are connected to Xbox Live. It's a wonderful managed experience that as you know, you've got a friends list, they can leave you messages, they can leave you voice messages, it's a great system. But beyond that, wouldn't it be great to your point, that they could actually leave you a message that has a game embedded in it that is a XNA game that they've created or that they discovered, and they want you to check it out. It's from a trusted, reliable source, so you say “Why not, I'll play this.” That's a scenario that we've also drawn up on this side and storyboarded. It's one we're looking at whether or not we can support. I think it's a fantastic scenario, to be able to create a game and with everyone on my friends list including my family, why shouldn't I be able to, to use J Allard's term, “squirt it over to them” over Xbox Live? And the next time they sign on, there it is. Or potentially, I shoot them an email, and they have the option of saying “Ok, I want to play your game, and I want to choose to play it on Windows. Or I want to play it on Xbox Live.” We're looking at a lot of ways in which users discover these, and where and how they want to play it, and we want to make that as friction free as possible and easy to distribute and share." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, with much more from Mitchell on allowing creators to retain their IP rights, as well as ensuring they don't infringe upon others, and more on the interplay between the Creator's Club and Microsoft's established Live Arcade (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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