XNA on Windows 8 -gate

There’s been a lot of buzz from the BUILD Windows event about XNA not being available in the next version of Windows. Overall, there’s a huge amount of confusion and a lack of information.

Here’s a rough paraphrasing from the Q&A session of the “Introduction to DirectX-style for Metro style apps” (around 36min):

Question: You said XNA wasn’t immediately supported, but would you be able to take a Metro UI app, download a Metro UI project in C#, download XNA 4 and still be able to use it? Or would it just not compile/not work?

Answer: The bits for XNA aren’t really there. XNA is supported for desktop games, but for building Metro-style games you should use D3D.¬† We’ve brought some of the functionality that XNA has into the APIs for Metro-style apps and there’s a couple of talks on how to do things like audio and input. … But the “drop a project in”… that’s not something you can do.

Question: And just to follow up on that: since Windows Phone 7 supports XNA, is there going to be any future planned support for XNA? Perhaps in V2?

Answer: Yeah we’re not going to talk about what’s happening in the future. We’ve got a bunch of stuff¬† that we’re doing now and we’re excited for you guys to use that.

So the worst-case scenario of XNA “not working” on Windows 8 is false. This makes sense, since Windows will retain backwards compatibility as it always has. However, it looks like XNA is not going to be supported for Metro-style apps. This potentially has a few important implications:

First, XNA games might not be available in the upcoming app store.

Second, XNA games might not have access to Avatars, Leaderboards, Achievements and all the other LIVE goodness. To be fair, there’s a good chance this will be limited to approved partner-style Metro apps the way it currently is on Windows Phone.

Third, the XNA framework itself may not have much development time left. If everything Windows is heading to Metro/D3D, where does XNA fit? Does it still have a place on WP7/Xbox/desktop Windows?

All of this is rampant speculation during a time of much confusion and little communication. But it’s fun!

Maybe today’s “Building Xbox LIVE games for Windows 8” will shed some light. My prediction is that it will cover lightweight games using XAML and heavyweight games using D3D, with all the LIVE features requiring you to have a partner deal to be an official LIVE app.