San Francisco -- Games became bigger than music last year, Microsoft exec John Schappert proclaimed as part of his keynote address Wednesday to kick off the Game Developers Conference 2008, adding that every monetary measure attests to that fact.
And with that bold statement out of the way, Schappert (the corporate vice president of Xbox Live) and a variety of developers argued that the Xbox 360 could make a good run at YouTube, not just with the likes of "Gears of War 2" — which was not quite properly announced during the keynote — but with a suite of new Xbox 360 functions that are designed to enable the (almost) average person to upload games to the 360 for friends to rate and play.
The YouTube target was made clear throughout the presentation. Shappert claimed that in any given day there are 30 percent more pieces of user-captured content uploaded from "Halo 3" to that game's official site than there are new videos on YouTube. And the flow works the other way too: In an Xbox 360 developer's reel, MTV's Harmonix revealed that consumers had already purchased more than 3 million downloadable songs for "Rock Band."
Microsoft's more interesting — and most YouTube-esque — reveal of the keynote came at the start. Chris Satchell, the company's head of XNA game-development tools, said Microsoft was ready to embrace indie games. XNA is a free toolset for garage developers that has been available for more than a year but hasn't supported an easy way to get playable games to the public. Enter Community Games, a new feature for their Xbox Live online service that makes games produced with the indie-focused toolset available for download to the more than 10 million Xbox 360 owners.
Naturally, one would wonder how Microsoft intends to open the floodgates without the 15-year-old boys of the world immediately taking advantage of the newfound openness.