Where Do XNA Developers Stand With Windows 8?

Where Do XNA Developers Stand With Windows 8?

There’s no clear answer from Microsoft at the moment, other than the fact XNA won’t be supported going into the company’s new operating system. However, a recent presentation at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference revealed a few more tidbits for us to contemplate.

The first is that Microsoft will be providing XNA developers with a way to bring their current projects across, if they decide to go down that path. When Dave Voyles of Armless Octopus asked MS’s Chase Boyd for specifics, here’s what he had to say:

When we implemented this new sample framework and set up the samples, we modelled it as close as we could with XNA. In fact, with a lot of the new syntax improvements which have been incorporated in Visual Studio [2011], the code can be pretty easily pasted over. We’ve also structured those example code bases to work the way an XNA person would expect the way they would want.

Yeah, OK, not that specific. Hopefully this translates to MS providing developers with code to replace all the XNA bits with their Metro / .NET / DirectX equivalents.

It should be made clear that .NET and DirectX, which XNA runs on-top of, aren’t going anywhere, so plugging all the XNA-specific bits into Windows 8 looks like a code issue right now. How game developers will connect to Metro in the long-term, well, I’m still waiting to hear more about that.

The presentation also talked about the Windows Store, which Microsoft sees as a unified shop front for all Metro-enabled hardware. Here are some details from the relevant slide:

  • Max package size of 2GB
  • App price range is US$1.49 to US$999.99(!)
  • Revenue split 70/30, unless you make over US$25,000, in which case it’s 80/20

2GB is a lot of space (plenty for your average indie game), but not enough for many triple-A titles. This suggests Microsoft won’t be abandoning physical media just yet. How the Windows Store will sync up with Xbox Live is again another question we haven’t got an answer for, but if it’s going to be available on Xbox 360 (eventually), surely it’ll be another avenue for developers to get their games onto the console.

I don’t have anything invested in XNA (I’ll likely be using Unity for my next project), but as a game developer who primarily uses C#, I’m keen to see how this all ends.

Microsoft Outlines Their Unified Metro Vision Sans XNA [Armless Octopus]


  • Shouldn’t go anywhere. XNA is still XNA, you can still write .NET apps and everything. The Metro stuff is via WinRT which is essentially a replacement for the old Win32 APIs, so I’d imagine a Windows 8 XNA app would use WinRT libraries to initialize a window and do your general GUI fiddling, and XNA for the actual game stuff.

    Benefit of it all being in C# / .NET is it should also be able to run on WoA and potentially the Windows Phone as well.

  • I’m a bit confused. Does this mean they’ll be abandoning XNA for windows phone (and xbox, but I’m not really interested in that) as well, or purely windows 8?

  • This XNA silence is very strange, and probably means that XNA is dead. Migration to DirectX/C++ is not easy for many XNA indie developers. And, what with WP8?
    Also, I gave chance to HTML5 game sample on Win8 (on VirtualBox), but I haven’t seen such slow rendering since programming in C64 Basic.
    Right now (or when I finnish my current project), I am thinking to switch to iOS/Android game development ecosystem. At least I won’t be 2nd class citizen (non US), and framework providers won’t kill platform 3 years after publishing (Silverligh, XNA).

  • Shawn Hargreaves (previous design lead for XNA) had this to say on the subject:

    “It is correct that XNA is not supported for developing the new style Metro applications in Windows 8.

    But XNA remains fully supported and recommended for developing on Xbox and Windows Phone, not to mention for creating classic Windows applications (which run on XP, Vista, Win7, and also Win8 in classic mode).”

    Shawn’s post is here, most of the way down the page.

  • Where is it stated that .NET is supported on Windows Tablets ? – I am not sure that it is in the WinRT Architecture diagram. Microsoft are only supporting .NET, Silverllight and XNA on the legacy Desktop mode. Really dissapointing that they lost faith in the great .NET technologies on the Tablet. WP7 Silverlight and XNA Games are reported to run on WP8 Apollo.

    Hopefully they will have some form of translationj tools Silverlight to Metro XAML/C# and XNA to some decent performing C# DirectX layer. I was sort of hoping for common WP8 and Windows 8 Tablet Marketplace for XNA based games. You know someting like iOS and ICS. I mean if they could get XCNA to run on a Phone, why was it such a hassle to get it suppoerted on the Tablets.

  • Dear Logan,
    Nice article!
    But let me ask you a thing: you said you’re likely be using Unity for your next project; you are planning to develop for PC only or for Xbox too?
    I had that wish but, after I contacted Unity Tech and the Xbox Registered Developers Program, I’ve been aware that for Xbox developing Unity Requires you to be a registered developer for the relevant console, though Microsoft isn’t releasing that to me since I don’t have neither a solid background in the game industry nor a cospicuous financial background. Are you aware of all this things? Do you have any suggestion?
    Thank you,

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