Just when Microsoft was getting to the point where it looked like XNA was going to be the unifying game development technology across platforms the BUILD conference came along and they dropped the bombshell that XNA wasn’t an option for creating games to sell in the new Windows 8 Store. This seemed crazy at the time, and I still think it is since Microsoft is losing out on all of the games developed for Xbox Live Indie Games and Windows Phone over the last few years. These would give an instant boost to the fledgling store and I’m sure that many of the developers that created these games would do what it takes to move them over.
There are no indications that XNA will have any new releases, and some key team members have moved on, with the latest being Shawn Hargreaves who is now on the Windows Phone team working on undisclosed projects.
Michael Klucher, a key XNA team member who was involved in the original port of XNA to Zune among many other things moved on about a year ago.
GDC is around the corner, and I would expect to hear a lot more about Microsoft’s game development strategy going forward but I’d be very surprised to hear much about XNA.
It seems that Microsoft is unwilling to take some short term gains instead focusing on where they want the technology to go moving forward. Here is a quote from Shawn Hargreaves which I think sums it up nicely:
If you want to make games for Windows Phone or XBLIG, XNA remains your best option, just like it always has been.
If you want to make games for Windows Classic (XP, Vista, Win7, Win8 desktop mode), you can use whatever programming technologies you like, including XNA, just like always.
Hopefully that ends your confusion?
One question mark is still Windows Phone 8, although XNA games will run on Windows Phone 8, there are also indications that Microsoft will be adding C++ to the options for developing games for Windows Phone 8.
So what will I be doing? I have an open source .NET 2D game framework called Frolic that I’ve been working on which abstracts out the rendering technologies to make it easier to adapt to these changing times and to avoid a lot of the lock in to a particular technology. It currently can use either Silverlight or XNA for its rendering and I have a prototype working on WinRT. I’ll also be looking at how I can use some of the concepts I developed in Frolic in C++ for Metro Style apps. Finally, I’ll be listening closely to what comes out of GDC and the Mobile World Congress related to Microsoft game development strategies.