Another sign of big players’ growing interest in user-generated content has come with Microsoft’s


of game development tools for the Xbox 360.

The software, called XNA Studio Express, will enable amateur developers to create their own games and share them via the Xbox Live online service.

Microsoft said ten US universities plan to introduce the software into their curriculum, and said it hopes to foster a community of users who share games and give feedback to each other on what they like and don’t like.

The company said users will have to have some programming skills, although the tools will be much simpler than professional versions. They will also need a PC running Windows XP, or Vista when it is launched, to operate the programme, which will go live on August 20. The firm added that users will own the rights to their own work.

Microsoft executive Peter Moore called the move “our first step of creating a YouTube for video games”. But unlike YouTube, the service will come at a price, with subscriptions costing £55 per year.