Microsoft Extends XNA Game Studio to Mobile Phones

Today at GDC, Microsoft announced that XNA Game Studio 4.0 will support application development for Windows Phone 7 Series.

What is XNA Game Studio 4?

XNA Game Studio 4.0 is a set of software tools that will be used by developers to create games for Windows Phone 7 Series. This updated version of XNA Game Studio will allow game developers to create better mobile games faster by providing:

  • Power: XNA Game Studio 4.0 includes powerful audio and graphics tools that allow developers to create all types of games, from casual 2-D games to 3-D games with high-quality graphics.
  • Productivity: XNA Game Studio 4.0 is a managed code platform, which means that Microsoft has done the back-end work that will save developers time in the coding process. It allows developers to be more productive and focus on gameplay and design.
  • Portability: XNA Game Studio 4.0 makes it possible for developers to update games built on previous versions of XNA Game Studio to work on Windows Phone 7 Series. This flexibility works in more than one way; once a developer has created a new game for Windows Phone 7 Series, he or she can adapt that game to work on Xbox 360, Windows and Zune without re-coding the entire game.
  • Pedigree: Microsoft has invested in XNA Game Studio for the past four years to make it one of the most comprehensive and trusted tools for developers. There have been over 1 million downloads of previous versions of XNA Game Studio since its initial release in December 2006.

What is Windows Phone 7 Series?

Windows Phone 7 Series is a whole new approach to phone software, distinguished by smart design and truly integrated experiences. It offers users new ways to find and play games, including:

  • The Games Hub. The games hub will contain all the games an individual has acquired through the Windows® Phone Marketplace. We are partnering with a select group of publishers to create great Xbox LIVE games for the games hub. The Xbox LIVE features include the ability to:
    • Collect Achievements and build your Gamerscore
    • View Xbox LIVE leaderboards
    • See your Xbox LIVE Avatar
    • Access Spotlight feeds
    • Add Xbox LIVE friends to your friends list while out on the go
  • The Marketplace Hub. Windows Phone 7 Series includes the Windows® Phone Marketplace hub, where apps and games will be sold. Both independent and professional developers can offer games as apps via Marketplace, giving consumers a wide array of games to choose from.

More at MIX10

For more information on developing for Windows Phone 7 Series, see developer.windowsphone.com. As of today (March 9th, 2010), that site doesn’t yet contain information on Windows Phone 7 Series application development. On the calendar is a presentation at MIX on March 15th that should provide additional information.

If you take a look at the XNA track for MIX10 you’ll get an idea of what they have in mind for the Windows Phone 7 Series platform.

Windows Phone 7 Series Screenshots

Frequently Asked Questions

What is XNA Game Studio 4.0?
XNA Game Studio 4.0 is a software toolset used by both managed and non-managed developers to create games for Windows Phone 7 Series.

What are the new features of XNA Game Studio 4.0?
XNA Game Studio 4.0 is the first toolset for game development on the Windows Phone 7 Series, available in a single download to managed and non-managed developers. This includes the addition of Xbox LIVE APIs that bring popular features from Xbox LIVE to the phone, available to managed developers. All developers have access to the XNA framework, including powerful managed code that helps to create better games faster for Windows Phone 7 Series.

What is the difference between being a managed developer and a non-managed developer?
Managed developers are a select group of publishers that Microsoft has partnered with. Managed developers for Windows Phone 7 Series will be able to integrate Xbox LIVE features into their games. Their games will be sold on the Windows® Phone Marketplace and will receive premier placement on the games hub. Non-managed developers will have access to the same development tools, but without Xbox LIVE capabilities. Their games will be sold on the Windows® Phone Marketplace.

When will XNA Game Studio 4.0 be available?
XNA Game Studio 4.0 will be available for download in the next 1-2 months. We will share additional details of how to access the software when it launches.

Is XNA Game Studio 4.0 a completely managed code platform or can developers use native code?
XNA Game Studio 4.0 is a managed code platform, which means that Microsoft has done the back-end work that will save developers time in the coding process. It allows developers to be more productive and focus on gameplay and design.

How easy is it to port a game from Xbox 360, Windows or Zune to Windows Phone 7 Series?
XNA Game Studio 4.0 makes it possible for developers to adapt games built on previous versions of XNA Game Studio to work on Windows Phone 7 Series without re-coding the entire game. Also, once a developer has created a Windows Phone 7 Series game, they can use some of that code in XNA Game Studio 3.1 to adapt that game for Xbox 360, Windows or Zune.

How will Xbox LIVE work on Windows Phone 7 Series?
For the first time ever, managed developers can bring Xbox LIVE features to a mobile phone. The Windows Phone 7 Series games hub will provide access to a managed portfolio of Xbox LIVE and non-Xbox LIVE games. It also lets users:

  • Collect Achievements and build their Gamerscore
  • View Xbox LIVE Leaderboards
  • See their Xbox LIVE Avatar
  • Access Spotlight feeds
  • Add Xbox LIVE friends to their friends list while out on the go
  • Turn-based (asynchronous) multiplayer gaming

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