In sadder news for some indie developers, a Microsoft representative recently sent out an email to various employees and companies stating that XNA, their game development software for smaller teams, is “not in active development,” and is expected to be completely retired by the company on April 1, 2014.
The software could be used to develop games for Xbox Live, the PC, and the Windows Phone, with several recent high-profile indie games, including Bastion, Fez, Dust: An Elysian Tail, and Skulls of the Shogun, making use of it during their production. XNA was also the backbone of the Xbox Live Indie Games service on the Xbox 360, which enabled users to upload their own games for download following an approval process. An inside source hinted that this service will likely be phased out by the time Microsoft’s oft-rumored next console comes out, citing “No one wants to learn a dying technology,” as a major reason.
Developer responses to this turn of events have been varied. David Helgason, CEO of Unity, tweeted, “Farewell XNA, you were never quite the worthy opponent I expected, though you hit some high notes along the way.” Dominique Louis of MonoGame, on the other hand, felt that “Microsoft have essentially turned their backs on 10,000 developers on one of the most promising gaming APIs available today.”
It isn’t all gloom and doom for developers who have stuck to XNA up to this point, though. MonoGame will continue to support XNA users, and through their SharpDX software, developers will be able to publish games made in XNA for Windows 8, which does not natively support the service. The Microsoft email also referred to XNA as, “a supported toolset for developing games for Xbox 360, Windows and Windows Phone.”
The Xbox Live Indie Games service has had a lot of less-than-stellar games published for it, but there have been some gems, including Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3, pictured above. It is sad to hear that developers who are still reliant on XNA may have to switch software in the near future, but at least Microsoft isn’t fully pulling the plug for another year.
What are your thoughts on XNA, Xbox Live Indie Games, and this recent situation? Post your opinion below.