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Video game creation: See if you can do better

XNA Studio Express enables DIY Xbox games

In the movie industry, there is a prevalence of rehashed sure-fire "hits" churned out by studios. The same goes for video games these days. Almost no one wants to take big risks when you need up to three years to develop a video game, which is why there are so many II and IIIs.

XNA Studio Express logo

But in the movie industry, cheaper high-end camcorders and better video-sharing sites have also boosted the capability and exposure of indie filmmakers everywhere. Now the same may become possible for indie video game developers.

Microsoft has released XNA Game Studio Express 1.0, free, downloadable software that lets hobbyists create their own Xbox games. (Microsoft says XNA stands for "XNA's Not Acronymed.") Unfortunately, the games can't be shared unless you subscribe to Microsoft's new XNA Creators Club, which costs $99 for the year, or $49 for four months.

To kick off the free software and paid subscription service, Microsoft is running a contest for the best video games created by XNA Game Studio. "Dream-Build-Play " will start in January. The winning game will appear in the Xbox Live Arcade.

The hope is that Microsoft will be able to create a YouTube-like game-sharing site.