SAN FRANCISCO--After Wednesday morning's Microsoft keynote address at the Game Developers Conference here, I was struck by how the only really significant news from the talk was about the company's new Creators Club initiative, which will allow almost anyone to create Xbox, Windows, or games and have them distributed on Xbox Live.
So it was a good thing that I had an appointment shortly afterwards with Chris Satchell, the head of Microsoft's game development studio.
Primarily, I just wanted to get some follow-up details on the initiative, details that Satchell didn't share during the keynote address.
One of them was about timing. Unless I missed it, Satchell did not say during his speech when members of the community would be able to begin submitting their games for possible inclusion.
Satchell told me in our meeting that Microsoft will launch the Creators Club beta this spring and that the program should be fully operational by the end of the year.
One of the major goals of the beta is to iron out some of the little details of the program that will make or break it.
For example, it was not clear during Satchell's time on stage exactly what the process for the Creators Club would be.
Fundamentally, he explained that someone would create a game, submit it, get it peer-reviewed and then, assuming it didn't contain any "objectionable" content, it would be added to the roster of community-created games on Xbox Live.
What Satchell had not explained, and which he spelled out to me in private, was a little more about how this would work.
For the most part, he said, just about anyone could have their game added to Xbox Live. But he did say that in order for that to happen, some as-yet undecided number of Creators Club members would have to review the game and assert that it was suitable for being placed on the system.
Satchell said Microsoft has yet to figure out that number, but said there would have to be enough interest to warrant putting a game up.
In addition, he pointed out that peer reviewers would be able to provide feedback to game developers so that, even if a game is not accepted initially, the developer can go back and fix or solve, whatever problems might exist.
Ultimately, though, the idea is to manifest a system whereby Microsoft itself doesn't have to get actively involved in vetting games. That would, ideally, Satchell said, be left entirely to the community.And while the beta won't go live until spring, Satchell did say that there are several community-created games already live on the Creators Club section of Xbox Live, games that the company selected specially for the service's public launch.