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RealTime IT News

Microsoft to Developers: Come Out and Play!

Microsoft Corp. Tuesday unveiled two unique programs aimed at independent game developers.

The programs -- the Xbox Independent Developer Program and the Xbox Incubator Program -- address the company's recently launched Xbox video game console.

The programs are unprecedented in that they enable independent game designers to create prototype Xbox games, according to Kevin Bachus, director of third-party relations at Microsoft.

"Changes in the video game industry and the rising cost of production have made it more difficult for independent developers to access major publishers and their distribution channels," he said. "History has proven that great games can come from anywhere and we want to establish an environment in which gifted game designers, regardless of their resources, have the opportunity to realize their creative visions.

Independent programmers are invited to participate in the Xbox Independent Developer Program via applying to receive a prototype kit (XPK), which offers details on creating games. The Incubator Program is intended for video developers who want to commit resources to developing an Xbox game using an Xbox Development Kit (XDK) before securing relationships with publishers.

To participate, independent developers should submit written descriptions of the game concepts to Microsoft's Xbox team. If invited to join the program, developers must license an XDK that contains the hardware, software and tools necessary to build Xbox games.

The Xbox, which is scheduled for release in the fall of 2001, is a future-generation video console.

According to J. Allard, a spokesperson for Microsoft, the online gaming console addresses an arena that began as a novelty but will become a necessity.

"People care about games. This console is a next-generation platform that will take gaming forward," he said. "This is the most powerful game box there is. Now, we are working with systems developers to build killer content."