After lunch we had the first of two presentations that aimed to put meat on the bones of the keynote announcements yesterday. This dealt with how you will get your XNA game up onto Xbox Live Arcade so that anyone in the world can play with it.
The process is going to be community driven, with developers performing peer reviews of the content that has been submitted. Once a few of reviewers have taken a turn with your game and agreed with your game description it goes out there for the masses to play with. There is a very precise rating system, so that particular aspects of the game can be identified as "adult". There are very powerful tools available to shut down a naughty game and ban the creator, and so I think that in the situation Microsoft have made the best of a very bad job.
It would have been much simpler for them to just say "this is too scary" and walk (or perhaps run) away from the whole thing. When YouTube started up they were a comparatively small operation with nothing much to lose. They didn't have time to police their content and so nowadays you can find pretty much any kind of material up there. Microsoft are trying to do the same with games, but being a much bigger target they would be in trouble if they got this wrong. The fact that they are trying to build a workable, scaleable system to manage the content is hugely impressive. They freely admit that they don't quite know how it will turn out and some aspects of policy are not clear yet. Three things stood out for me:
- It is going to happen, you will be able to get your XNA games out to a potential audience of 10 Million Xbox owners.
- You keep ownership of the game you submit. Microsoft just provides a channel for the distribution.
- This is going to create a new ecosystem of people who gain respect and a role simply as trusted game reviewers who tell it like it is. Even if you don't write games, you could still make quite a name for yourself just doing this side.
The service goes live in the USA later this year for testing, with full roll out across the 'states by Christmas. Not sure when we will get it in the UK, but I'm looking forward to it.