Microsoft will release a free set of game development tools called XNA Game Studio Express on August 30. The company wants to do for video games what YouTube has done for video.
Prospective do-it-yourself game developers can download the program (from www.microsoft.com/xna) to their Windows PC and create games for PCs and for Xbox 360 systems.
Then during the holiday season, Microsoft will launch a "Creators Club" membership on its Xbox Live online service ($99 annually) allowing fledgling game developers to test their creations on their Xbox 360. Eventually, Microsoft plans to allow independent game makers to demo and sell their games on Xbox Live. "We want to be able to get consumer hobbyists to create games that run on Xbox 360 with an interface as simple as drag and drop," Microsoft's Peter Moore says.