User-developed games to be sold on Xbox Live for between $2.50 to $10

Microsoft announced today that user-created games will be sold on Xbox Live through a new Community Games section starting this fall, with developers taking 70 percent of the revenue.

Almost two years ago, Microsoft first announced its plans to open Xbox 360 development to the public with the unveiling of its XP-compatible XNA Game Studio Express, and fully-featured XNA Game Studio.

During a showing of the product at Tech-Ed last year, Microsoft's David Weller mentioned that the company was exploring the possibility of creating an online community of XNA game developers that would be more than just a place to share ideas, but to also market and their products.

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"[We] want to find some way of creating an environment where you as a developer are very, very motivated to create these really outstanding games, and perhaps give yourselves the opportunity to get some kind of reward from that," he said.

That environment is currently in beta testing, and will soon be ready for public consumption.

Similar to Apple's iPhone Developer Program, Microsoft's XNA Creator's Club charges developers $99 per year to sell the games they created with the XNA Game Studio toolset on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Before they can be sold, however, all games must first pass a peer-review exam to ensure they are of suitable quality. Once approved, creators can set the price of their game between 200 and 800 Microsoft Points, or $2.50 and $10 USD, of which Microsoft takes 30 percent.

While a game developer will only earn $1.75 from a $2.50 download, the potential sales figures are quite large. Last year, the Ace Combat 6 demo, for example, was downloaded half a million times; comparable downloads at even the lowest price would net the developer $875,000.

In February, Xbox Live corporate vice president John Schappert said that Club-created games would more than double the size of the Xbox 360 games catalog, with over 1,000 games available in Community Games, Xbox Live Arcade and on disc. Microsoft repeated those figures in today's announcement.

Boyd Multerer, general manager of XNA Game Studio says that since the product's 2006 launch, XNAGS has been downloaded over 1 million times and is in use by more than 700 universities such as University of Washington, which has XNA-based projects in certain computer science classes.

Xbox Live Community Games will go live for users sometime this fall, although Microsoft has not yet announced a specific launch date.

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