At the 2008 Game Developers Conference, Microsoft made a splashy entrance into independent game design with its new Community Games push. In short, you can develop a downloadable Xbox 360 game and submit it to Microsoft's peer-review website. If your game passes muster and makes it onto the new Community Game storefront -- which goes live with the Xbox 360 Experience dashboard update in late 2008 -- you'll get up to 70 per cent of the revenues from sales. You'll even be able to choose the price point (200, 400, or 800 Microsoft points) when you publish the game.
There are some catches, however. There won't be any free games offered through the Xbox 360's Community Games store...at least, not at first. "We want to prove there's a market for this and that it can support itself," Multerer explained. So if you want to check out the hottest community-developed games, you'll have to pay up. Secondly, Multerer explained that certain community games will be heavily promoted in the storefront; in these cases, Microsoft reserves the right to temporarily collect a larger percentage of revenue -- as high as 30 per cent, as low as 10 per cent.
Still, Microsoft and Multerer are optimistic on the Community Games store. "We think it's a good deal for everybody," said Multerer. "Creators are going to make a lot of money. Microsoft will get lots of great new games. Consumers will get lots of choices."
The new Community Games storefront will go live with Microsoft's new "Xbox Experience" user interface, debuted at last week's E3 2008, which is due in late 2008.
Multerer also added three community-developed games that he feels have big potential:
-- Colosseum: This four-person fighting game hails from Sweden. It's most notable for its visually arresting graphics and animation, and has wowed Microsoft employees who work behind-the-scenes.
-- Funny Dancing: a simple dancing game that hails from Japan. You push buttons to make a girl dance on stage. Though it sounds simple, Multerer mentioned that the game is a huge hit with his young daughters.
-- Word Soup: Essentially a version of Boggle meets Bubble Breaker from a group of UK developers. Visually simple, but apparently quite addictive.