Microsoft XNA

Microsoft XNA (a recursive acronym for XNA's not acronymed)[5] is a freeware set of tools with a managed runtime environment provided by Microsoft that facilitates video game development and management. XNA is based on the .NET Framework, with versions that run on Windows NT, Windows Phone and the Xbox 360. XNA content is built with the XNA Game Studio, and played using the XNA Framework (for Windows games), or published as native executables (for Xbox 360, Windows Phone and Zune).

Microsoft XNA
Target platform(s)Xbox 360, Windows, Windows Phone
Editor softwareXNA Game Studio
Player softwareXNA Runtime
Programming language(s)C# and Visual Basic .NET[1] (officially)
Application(s)Video games, Console games, Mobile games

In many respects, XNA can be thought of as a .NET analog to Microsoft's better known game development system, DirectX, but it is aimed at developers primarily interested in writing lightweight games that run on a variety of Microsoft platforms. XNA is the basic platform for Xbox Live Indie Games.

The XNA toolset was announced March 24, 2004, at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California. A first Community Technology Preview of XNA Build was released on March 14, 2006. XNA Game Studio 2.0 was released in December 2007, followed by XNA Game Studio 3.0 on October 30, 2008. XNA Game Studio 4.0 was released on September 16, 2010 along with the Windows Phone Development Tools. According to an email sent on 31 January 2013, XNA is no longer being developed,[6] and it is not supported under the new "Metro interface" layers of Windows 8 nor on the Windows RT platform.[7]

An open source cross platform version of the Microsoft XNA 4 Application programming interface called MonoGame is being developed, and a crossplatform reimplementation of the XNA API called FNA exists as well.


XNA Framework

Microsoft XNA Framework is based on the native implementation of .NET Compact Framework 2.0 for Xbox 360 development and .NET Framework 2.0 on Windows. It includes an extensive set of class libraries, specific to game development, to promote maximum code reuse across target platforms. The framework runs on a version of the Common Language Runtime that is optimized for gaming to provide a managed execution environment. The runtime is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Phone and Xbox 360. Since XNA games are written for the runtime, they can run on any platform that supports the XNA Framework with minimal or no modification. Games that run on the framework can technically be written in any .NET-compliant language, but only C# in XNA Game Studio Express IDE and all versions of Visual Studio 2008 and 2010 (as of XNA 4.0)[8] are officially supported.[9] Support for Visual Basic .NET was added in 2011.[10]

The XNA Framework encapsulates low-level technological details involved in coding a game, making sure that the framework itself takes care of the difference between platforms when games are ported from one compatible platform to another, and thereby allowing game developers to focus more on the content and gaming experience. The XNA Framework integrates with a number of tools, such as the Cross-platform Audio Creation Tool (XACT), to aid in content creation. The XNA Framework provides support for both 2D and 3D game creation and allows use of the Xbox 360 controllers and vibrations. XNA framework games that target the Xbox 360 platform could only be distributed by members of the Microsoft XNA Creator's Club/App Hub, which carried a $99/year subscription fee.[9] Desktop applications can be distributed free of charge under Microsoft's current licensing.

XNA Build

XNA Build is a set of game asset pipeline management tools, which help by defining, maintaining, debugging, and optimizing the game asset pipeline of individual game development efforts. A game asset pipeline describes the process by which game content, such as textures and 3D models, are modified to a form suitable for use by the gaming engine. XNA Build helps identify the pipeline dependencies, and also provides API access to enable further processing of the dependency data. The dependency data can be analyzed to help reduce the size of a game by finding content that is not actually used. For example, XNA Build analysis revealed that 40% of the textures that shipped with MechCommander 2 were unused and could have been omitted.[11]

XNA Game Studio

XNA Game Studio is a programming environment for development of games.[12] Five revisions have been released so far, but as of 2015, no new versions will be developed.[13]

XNA Game Studio Express was the first version released on August 30, 2006, and was intended for students, hobbyists, and independent (and homebrew) game developers.[14][15] It was available as a free download. Express provides basic "starter kits" for rapid development of specific genres of games, such as platform games, real-time strategy, and first-person shooters. Developers could create Windows games for free with the XNA Framework, but to run their games on the Xbox 360 they will have to pay an annual fee of US$99 (or a four-month fee of US$49) for admission to the Microsoft XNA Creator's Club. With an update, XNA developers could compile Xbox 360 binaries and share them with other Microsoft XNA Creator's Club members.

XNA Game Studio 2.0 was released on December 13, 2007.[16] XNA Game Studio 2.0 features the ability to be used with all versions of Visual Studio 2005 (including the free Visual C# 2005 Express Edition),[17] a networking API using Xbox Live on both Windows and Xbox 360 and better device handling.[18]

XNA Game Studio 3.0 (for Visual Studio 2008 or the free Visual C# 2008 Express Edition) allows production of games targeting the Zune platform and adds Xbox Live community support. It was released on October 30, 2008, and supported C# 3.0, LINQ and most versions of Visual Studio 2008.

XNA Game Studio 4.0 was released on September 16, 2010.[19] It added support for the Windows Phone platform (including 3D hardware acceleration), framework hardware profiles, configurable effects, built-in state objects, graphics device scalars and orientation, cross-platform and multi-touch input, microphone input and buffered audio playback, and Visual Studio 2010 integration.[20]

XNA "Game Studio 4.0 Refresh" was released on 6 October 2011, and added support for Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), and Visual Basic.[21]

XNA Framework Content Pipeline

The XNA Framework Content Pipeline is a set of tools that allows Visual Studio and XNA Studio to act "as the key design point around organizing and consuming 3D content".[12]

XDK Extensions

Formerly known as XNA Game Studio Professional, XDK Extensions is an add-on to XNA Game Studio and requires the Microsoft Xbox 360 Development Kit.[22] Both are only available for licensed Xbox developers. The extensions include additional managed APIs for achievements, leaderboards, and other features reserved for licensed game titles. Titles developed using XDK Extensions include winners of Microsoft's Dream.Build.Play competition among others. The most heavily publicized of these was The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.

License agreement

The Microsoft XNA Framework 2.0 EULA specifically prohibits the distribution of commercial networked games that connect to Xbox Live and/or Games for Windows Live in the absence of a specific agreement signed by both the developer and Microsoft.[23] This means that XNA Game Studio can still be used to develop commercial games and other programs for the Windows platform, although Microsoft's networking support code for Xbox/Windows Live cannot be used. Self-developed network code can still be used inside the developer's XNA project.

Games created using XNA Game Studio may be distributed via the Windows Phone marketplace, and formerly via Xbox Live Indie Games.[24] The software may also be used to create commercial games which target Windows.

Dream Build Play

Dream Build Play was an annual and global $75,000 Microsoft contest promoting Microsoft XNA and eventually Xbox Live Indie Games, although it predated it. The contest was first announced in 2006 and first opened in January 2007.[25] Many winners are notable developers in the Indie Game community.

Xbox Live Indie Games

Xbox 360 games written in XNA Game Studio could be submitted to the App Hub,[26] for which premium membership was required (about US$99/year). All games submitted to the App Hub were subjected to peer review by other creators. If the game passed review then it Would be listed on Xbox Live Marketplace. Creators could set a price of 80, 240 or 400 points for their game. The creator is paid 70% of the total revenue from their game sales as a baseline. Microsoft originally planned to take an additional percentage of revenue if they provided additional marketing for a game, but this policy was rescinded in March 2009, leaving the flat rate intact regardless of promotion.[27]

Microsoft also distributed a free year premium App Hub subscription for educational establishments through their DreamSpark program and MSDNAA. These accounts allowed students to develop games for the Xbox 360, but developers still needed a premium Xbox Live account to submit their game to the marketplace.

Alternative implementations

A project called Mono.XNA was formed to port XNA to the open source and cross-platform Mono framework.[28]

From the codebase of Mono.XNA and SilverSprite, a new project called MonoGame was formed to port XNA to several mobile devices.[29][30] As of version 3.0.1 (released March 3, 2013), support is stable for iOS, Android including OUYA, macOS, Linux and Metro for Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8, as well as PlayStation Mobile in 2D. PlayStation Mobile 3D and Raspberry Pi development are currently in progress.[31]

FNA, from game porter Ethan Lee is a full-featured open source reimplementation of XNA forked from MonoGame. It's used in many games, some of which can be seen here. The goal of FNA is to preserve the XNA game library by reimplementing XNA itself.

An open source project called Grommet contains a limited port for embedded devices using the .NET Micro Framework.[32]

A project called ANX is available which implements its own version of XNA using the SharpDX stack, support for Linux, macOS and the PlayStation Vita is in progress as well.[33][34] Using ANX, developers are able to write games using code that is very similar to XNA, while still being considered a Metro application in Windows 8.

Partial list of games and companies that use XNA

Akane the Kunoichi2011Windows, Xbox 360, Windows Phone, iOSHarunekoHaruneko
Aliens vs. Romans2013Xbox 360Sick KreationsSick Kreations
Amazing Princess Sarah2014Windows, Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Xbox OneHarunekoHaruneko
ApocZ2014Xbox 360Sick KreationsSick Kreations
Apotheon2015Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4AlientrapAlientrap
Arelite Core2017WindowsDragon SlumberDragon Slumber
A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda2010Windows, Xbox 360, OnLiveExtend StudioOrigo Games
At the Gates[35]2019Windows, OS X, Linux, iOSConifer GamesConifer Games
Axiom Verge2015Windows, macOS, LinuxThomas Happ Games LLCThomas Happ Games LLC
Bastion2011Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360, Chrome, iOSSupergiant GamesWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Battle High2011Windows, Xbox 360Mattrified GamesMattrified Games
Biocide2012Windows PhoneTony SakariyaTony Sakariya
Blazing Birds2009Xbox 360Vector 2 GamesMicrosoft Studios
Bleed2012Windows, macOS, Xbox 360Bootdisk RevolutionBootdisk Revolution
Bleed 22017Windows, OS, X, LinuxBootdisk RevolutionBoodisk Revolution
Blockhead2011Windows, Xbox 360, Windows PhoneNightmare GamesNightmare Games
Bloodline Champions2011WindowsStunlock StudiosFuncom
Blueberry Garden2009WindowsErik SvedängErik Svedäng
Breath of Death VII2009Windows, Xbox 360Zeboyd GamesZeboyd Games
BulletAsylum2012Windows PhoneUberGeekGamesMicrosoft Studios
Bureau: Agent Kendall2011Xbox 360Twist-edGamesTwist-edGames
Capsized2011Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360AlientrapAlientrap
Celeste2018Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, PS4Matt Makes Games Inc.Matt Makes Games Inc.
Charlie Murder2013Xbox 360Ska StudiosMicrosoft Studios
Chime2010Windows, Xbox 360Zoe ModeValcon Games
Cloud Blaster2012Windows PhoneHusky Paw GamesHusky Paw Games
Colosseum2009Xbox 360Shortfuse GamesShortfuse Games
Comet Chaos2013Windows 8, Windows Phone 8Beard Bandit GamesBeard Bandit Games
Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst2010Windows PhoneSeedMicrosoft Studios
Crank Command2012WindowsDYNAMalteeDYNAMaltee
Cthulhu Saves the World2010Windows, Xbox 360Zeboyd GamesZeboyd Games
Dead Pixels2011Windows, Xbox 360CSR-StudiosCSR-Studios
Decimation X32010Xbox 360Xona GamesReverb Communications
Dinora2013Xbox 360Neuron VexxNeuron Vexx
DLC Quest2011Windows, macOS, Xbox 360Going Loud StudiosGoing Loud Studios
Dust: An Elysian Tail2012Windows, Xbox 360, macOS, LinuxHumble HeartsMicrosoft Studios
End of Days: Infected vs. Mercs2011Xbox 360Sick KreationsSick Kreations
End of Days: Survivor2012Xbox 360Sick KreationsSick Kreations
Escape Goat2011Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360MagicalTimeBeanMagicalTimeBean
EvilQuest2012Windows, Xbox 360ChaosSoft GamesChaosSoft Games
EvilQuest 2TBAWindows, Xbox 360ChaosSoft GamesChaosSoft Games
Face-Plant Adventures2012Xbox 360oddworm gamesoddworm games
Fez[36] (FNA/SDL2 later[37])2012Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360PolytronTrapdoor
Fist Puncher2013Windows, Xbox 360Team2BitAdult Swim Games, Team2Bit
Flotilla2010Windows, Xbox 360Blendo GamesBlendo Games
Fusion Genesis2011Xbox 360Starfire StudiosMicrosoft Studios
Galactic Arms Race2010WindowsEvolutionary GamesEvolutionary Games
Gerbil Physics2009WindowsPencel GamesPencel Games
GnomoriaTBAWindowsRobotronic GamesRobotronic Games
Grey: The Lost Technology2012Windows, Xbox 360Team AuroraTeam Aurora
Hacknet2015Windows, macOS, LinuxSurprise Attack GamesSurprise Attack Games
Ilomilo[38]2011Windows Phone, Xbox 360, WindowsSouthend Interactive, Microsoft StudiosMicrosoft Studios
Infinifactory2009Windows, macOS, LinuxZachary BarthZachary Barth
I Made a Game with Zombies in It!2009Xbox 360, Windows PhoneSka StudiosSka Studios
Islands of Wakfu[39]2011Xbox 360Ankama PlayMicrosoft Studios
KGB: Episode One2010Xbox 360Sick KreationsSick Kreations
Kodu2009Windows, Xbox 360Microsoft StudiosMicrosoft Studios
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior's Rise2012Windows, Xbox 360Qooc Soft7sixty
Light's End2009Xbox 360Ryan ThorlaksonXbox Games Store
Lemon World2010WindowsAlonso LeonardoCEFET-MG
Lucidity2009Windows, Xbox 360LucasArtsLucasArts
Magicka2011WindowsArrowhead Game StudiosParadox Interactive
Miasma: Citizens of Free Thought2010Windows, Xbox 360ESP GamesESP Games
Miasma 2: Freedom Uprising2012Windows, Xbox 360ESP GamesESP Games
Miner Wars 20812012Windows, Xbox 360Keen Software HouseKeen Software House
Nuclear Wasteland2010Xbox 360Sick KreationsSick Kreations
Orbox C2013Windows PhoneProGamixProGamix
Over 9000 Zombies!2014WindowsLoren LemckeMastertronic Group
Owlboy2016Windows, Linux, Mac OSD-Pad StudioD-Pad Studio
Plain Sight2010WindowsBeatnik GamesBeatnik Games
Pokémon 3D2013WindowsKolben GamesKolben Games
Potion Lore2012Windows PhoneHexfire SoftwareHexfire Software
Protect Me Knight2010Xbox 360AncientAncient
Proxy Blade Zero2014Xbox 360D6D6
Reus2013WindowsAbbey GamesAbbey Games
Residue2014WindowsThe Working PartsThe Working Parts
Rogue Legacy2013Windows, Linux, MacOS, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PS VitaCellar Door GamesCellar Door Games
Rocket Riot2009Xbox 360, Windows Phone, iOSCodeglueTHQ
Run-8 Train Simulator2012WindowsRun 8 Studios3DTrainStuff Skunkworks
Schizoid2008Xbox 360Torpex GamesMicrosoft Studios
Score Rush2010Xbox 360Xona GamesReverb Communications
Secrets of GrindeaTBAWindowsPixel FerretsPixel Ferrets
Sequence2011Windows, Xbox 360Iridium StudiosIridium Studios
Serious Sam Double D2011Windows, Xbox 360Mommy's Best GamesDevolver Digital
Skulls of the Shogun[40]2012Windows, Xbox 360, Windows Phone17-BitMicrosoft Studios
Snops Attack! Zombie Defense2012Xbox 360SnopsGamesSnopsGames
SoccerTime2013Windows PhoneT-Bag GamesT-Bag Games
Solar2009Xbox 360MurudaiMurudai
Solar 22011Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360MurudaiMurudai
Soulcaster2010Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360MagicalTimeBeanMagicalTimeBean
Soulcaster II2010Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360MagicalTimeBeanMagicalTimeBean
Sol Survivor2009Windows, Xbox 360Cadenza InteractiveCadenza Interactive
SpeedRunners2016Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4DoubleDutch GamestinyBuild
Stardew Valley2016Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, AndroidConcernedApeChucklefish
Super Amazing Wagon Adventure 2013 Windows, Xbox 360 sparsevector sparsevector
Survivalist2014Windows, Xbox 360bob_the_pr_botbob_the_pr_bot
Terraria2011Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360, PS3, iOS, AndroidRe-LogicMicrosoft Studios
The Adventures of Shuggy2011Windows, Xbox 360Smudged Cat GamesValcon Games
The Bridge2013WindowsTy Taylor and Mario CastañedaThe Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai2009Xbox 360Ska StudiosMicrosoft Studios
The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile2011Xbox 360Ska StudiosMicrosoft Studios
The Fall of Gods2012Windows, Xbox 360Geex GamesGeex Games
The Harvest2010Windows PhoneLuma ArcadeMicrosoft Studios
The Path of Go2010Xbox 360Microsoft StudiosMicrosoft Studios
They Bleed Pixels2012Windows, macOS, LinuxSpooky Squid GamesSpooky Squid Games
Tile Rider2014Windows Phone7 Soft Pillows7 Soft Pillows
Undead Carnage: Redemption2012Windows PhonePixelsFury GamesDevRain Solutions
Underrail[41]2015[42]WindowsStygian SoftwareStygian Software
Veks and Silence2009Xbox 360Edible Entertainment Pty LtdEdible Entertainment Pty Ltd
Weapon of Choice2008Xbox 360Mommy's Best GamesMommy's Best Games
Yo-Ho Kablammo2009Xbox 360Canalside StudiosMicrosoft Studios
Zeit 22011Windows, Xbox 360Brightside GamesUbisoft

See also


  2. Rose, Mike (February 1, 2013). "It's official: XNA is dead". Gamasutra.
  3. "XNA Is Dead: 3 Alternatives That Let You Use Your C# Skills". Lifehacker. February 2, 2013.
  4. Williams, Chris. "XNA is Dead; Long Live the New XNA, MonoGame". Code Magazine. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  5. "ANX.Framework (ANX's not XNA... but kind of) | Coding4Fun Blog | Channel 9". Retrieved 2015-01-07.
  6. Crossley, Rob (31 January 2013). "Microsoft email confirms plan to cease XNA support". CVG. Future Publishing.
  7. Klepek, Patrick (16 September 2011). "The Future of XNA Game Studio and Windows 8". Giant Bomb.
  8. "App Hub - downloads". Archived from the original on 2015-02-04.
  9. Microsoft XNA Frequently Asked Questions
  10. "Code sample details: Game State Management (, C#/VB)". Microsoft. 24 May 2011. Archived from the original on 4 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  11. Brian Keller: "Will XNA tools be able to help reduce game sizes?"
  12. "XNA Game Studio". Retrieved 2007-03-20.
  13. "Microsoft kills XNA". ExtremeTech. February 1, 2013.
  14. Gamefest announcement of XNA Game Studio Express Archived August 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  15. XNA Game Studio Express Archived May 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. XNA Creators Club Online - quick start guide Archived October 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  17. XNA Tutorial
  18. "XNA Team Blog : XNA Game Studio 2.0 Released". Archived from the original on 2009-08-26. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
  19. "xna game studio 4.0 available for download!". XNA Game Studio Team Blog. Microsoft. September 16, 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  20. "What's New in XNA Game Studio 4.0". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  21. "XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh". Downloads. Microsoft. October 6, 2011.
  22. "Download GDC 2009: XNA Game Studio Program Overview from Official Microsoft Download Center". Archived from the original on 2010-07-24. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  23. XNA Game Studio 2.0 Software License Terms
  24. Winterhalter, Ryan (April 29, 2011). "31 Homebrew Games Worth Playing". Archived from the original on May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  25. Dream Build Play, Alfred Thompson
  26. App Hub Archived 2015-02-08 at the Wayback Machine
  27. "Download History News". Archived from the original on March 31, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
  28. "Mono.XNA". Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  29. MonoGame
  30. "MonoGame: Write Once, Play Everywhere". Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  31. "MonoGame Wiki". Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  32. "Grommet". Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  33. ANX
  34. SharpDX
  35. "Jon Shafer's At the Gates » Weekly Update #5". Kickstarter. 2019-01-13. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  36. "The Future of XNA Game Studio and Windows 8". Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  37. FEZ 1.12 by Renaud Bédard on (August 16, 2016)
  38. "Windows Phone 7 App of the Week: Ilomilo". Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  39. "JeanBaptistePortfolio" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  40. "Interview Skulls of the Shogun Dev on asynchronous multiplayer and xbla". Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  41. "Mac/Linux Support? :: Underrail General Discussions". Stygian Software. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  42. "Underrail - An indie role playing game". Stygian Software. Retrieved 9 February 2015.

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