Microsoft to retire XNA tools; no plans to abandon DirectX

A set of game development tools from Microsoft, under the XNA label, that was used to make many popular games, has reached the end of the road in terms of further revision. Microsoft has confirmed it has no plans to continue making new builds of XNA, following the release of an email earlier this week that also hinted, incorrectly, that Microsoft was also ending development of DirectX as well.

Polygon reports that, according to a statement from Microsoft, "XNA Game Studio remains a supported toolset for developing games for Xbox 360, Windows and Windows Phone ... However, there are no plans for future versions of the XNA product."

XNA was first announced with much fanfare by Microsoft in 2004 as a way for small game developers to quickly make small downloadable games. The first version of the tools, under the name XNA Game Studio, was released in 2006. People could make games for Windows for free with those tools but they had to pay a $99 annual fee for those games to be released for the Xbox 360. The final major version of XNA Game Studio was released in 2010 and added support for making Windows Phone games.

XNA was used to make a number of acclaimed downloadable Xbox 360 and Windows games, including Bastion, Fez and others. It was also used by many small one and two-man teams to make games for the Xbox Live Indie Games portion of the console. Earlier this week, Skulls of the Shogun, which has cross platform play for Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone and Xbox 360, was released; it was based on XNA.

An email that was sent to Microsoft MVP members earlier this week that revealed the retirement of XNA also stated, "DirectX is no longer evolving as a technology." That suggested to many that Microsoft was also going to retire the long running graphics API for its Windows operating system. However, a statement from Microsoft indicated that is not the case.

The statement said:

Microsoft is actively investing in DirectX as the unified graphics foundation for all of our platforms, including Windows, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone. DirectX is evolving and will continue to evolve. We have absolutely no intention of stopping innovation with DirectX.

Source: Polygon | Image via Microsoft

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MFH said,
Those libraries didn't originate in XNA...

I believe Xaudio2 and Xinput are from the Xbox which xna was originally made for.

neufuse said,
so..... what are all the game libraries going to turn into? MS usually doesn't just adandon something like that, which has been used for a lot of xbox arcade games, and other things...

This is typical Microsoft, and if you think they don't kill things like this off, talk to a VB / WPF / Winforms / Silverlight programmer sometime.

lkernan said,

This is typical Microsoft, and if you think they don't kill things like this off, talk to a VB / WPF / Winforms / Silverlight programmer sometime.

Hell yes. If my livelihood didn't depend on Windows programming, I'd have bombed the ******* years ago.. As soon as you get proficient in one of their new technologies, they drop the bloody thing! ARGH! STOP IT!

lkernan said,

This is typical Microsoft, and if you think they don't kill things like this off, talk to a VB / WPF / Winforms / Silverlight programmer sometime.

WinForms are not dead, VB is not dead it's just .NET now, WPF is not dead.....

GP007 said,

I believe Xaudio2 and Xinput are from the Xbox which xna was originally made for.


XInput and XAudio2 were new parts for DirectX that were invented first for the XBox as replacement of DirectInput and DirectSound. The core of XNA is nothing but a managed wrapper around DirectX...

neufuse said,

WinForms are not dead, VB is not dead it's just .NET now, WPF is not dead.....

whatever you say, but personally I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the next version of winforms or wpf.

If you think vb and vb.net are the same things or even closely related then you've never used them for more than hello world.

lkernan said,

whatever you say, but personally I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the next version of winforms or wpf.

If you think vb and vb.net are the same things or even closely related then you've never used them for more than hello world.

^This. I get so fed up with people who know VB6, and then think they can program in VB.Net. I see sooo many terrible habits replicated...

TBH, I think the dismal backport of WPF back to XP has contributed a LOT to its death...

lkernan said,

whatever you say, but personally I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the next version of winforms or wpf.

If you think vb and vb.net are the same things or even closely related then you've never used them for more than hello world.

next version of winforms? *lol* you have no idea what you are talking about do you?... WinForms are just wrappers for base Win32 and MFC classes.... there is no "next version" of them... the version changes automatically with every windows release... as long as a desktop UI exists, winforms exist

SharpDX - It's a nice, thin wrapper around DX11. It's far more performant than XNA, which was built atop DX9, but it's also quite a bit more involved than XNA. As long as you want to get your hands dirty, but not wade around in sewage like you would with DirectX/C++, give SharpDX a try.

torrentthief said,
I wonder how many years until all pc and console platforms use OpenGL as the single API for games.

DX11.1 > OpenGL
to answer your question, never.
Since Vista, OpenGL is a wrapper around DX on Windows.

torrentthief said,
I wonder how many years until all pc and console platforms use OpenGL as the single API for games.

OpenGL? LOOOL

OpenGL is not a wrapper around DirectX... and neither is it "horrible."

I thought those misconceptions died around Vista's release?

deadonthefloor said,

DX11.1 > OpenGL
to answer your question, never.
Since Vista, OpenGL is a wrapper around DX on Windows.

No it isn't, and never has been.

FloatingFatMan said,

No it isn't, and never has been.

at one point I remember people saying how OpenGL is implemented it wouldnt' work right in WDDM mode and had to be written as a wrapper for directx..... I remember reading that back in the Vista days when WDDM came out and OpenGL people where screaming of performance problems because of WDDM acting different

"According to a Microsoft blog, there are three choices for OpenGL implementation on Vista. An application can use the default implementation, which translates OpenGL calls into the Direct3D API and is frozen at OpenGL version 1.4, or an application can use an Installable Client Driver (ICD), which comes in two flavors: legacy and Vista-compatible."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vista

Skyfrog said,
"According to a Microsoft blog, there are three choices for OpenGL implementation on Vista. An application can use the default implementation, which translates OpenGL calls into the Direct3D API and is frozen at OpenGL version 1.4, or an application can use an Installable Client Driver (ICD), which comes in two flavors: legacy and Vista-compatible."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vista

Which is a vendor agnostic version which no one uses anymore - it is only there for backwards compatibility. The issue that caused the kerfuffle was Microsoft at one stage not allowing ATI and Nvidia have direct access to their hardware for their respective OpenGL implementations but that then changed later on when Microsoft allowed ATI and Nvidia to do what they wanted. End of the day it doesn't really mean a hill of beans given that outside the CAD and high end market the gaming arena orientates around DirectX or DirectX games with an DirectX -> to OpenGL translator.

Microsoft is extremely fickle when it comes to these things. When they start to make headway or they actually have a product that is strong they seem to take a few steps back and the tree trunck falls square on some of their strongest support, while they take another direction. I get it, changing direction shakes things up and keeps them relevent (on a very mature platform). Not that I think it is a bad move (especially for business), maybe they have a plan, but their communication is horrible. They could at least yell "timber!".

They decided to kill off the Expression Studio line... Silverlight 5 had a still birth... sure they are integrating Blend into the next VS update (cool), but did they really communicate this well... no not completely because people are still confused and waiting.

I had a feeling XNA was going down. It was not even whispered when there was talk of Windows 8 Metro Style (yes I know they call it something else but it is too sticky) apps... I'm not worried about DirectX going anywhere as it is basically the new GDI for windows... It is mature, and we might not see to many revolutionary updates as it is very programable now. Might start seeing under the covers optimizations or frameworks to make it easier to use. New serious features will come if OpenGL pushes the line, or some new development in realtime graphics comes about. The Windows 7 and 8 composition is built on top of (I think) version 9C so yeah DirectX is not going anywhere...

To guess at what they will do with XNA... I imagine that they will allow templates within the Express versions of VS 2012 that allow development for DirectX. I personally have not used XNA, I have friends that used it, but it just seemed like a rebranded version of VS Express with templates and function wrappers of DirectX on managed languages from my view.

Since the XBox is not changing (hardware wise it is stuck with the version of DirectX it supports), Indie Xbox developers can continue doing what they are doing. MS is basically saying that the platform has matured and they will not be developing it further. Makes sense, a new system is coming out and they need to focus on making those tools ::wait for it:: Awesome and fun... So that means the Next XBox may shake things up with a new development platform for Indies, but I'm sure most are hoping it gets more streamlined rather than a shakeup just because it can be done. I'm sure they will speak about it when they feel like it. =D

Here's hoping that all the falling trees represent an aligning focus at MS where dev tools are concerned. Nevertheless, make sure you look up or watch for growing shadows, as I still think you will hear the crackling branches way before anyone warns you to get out of the way at Redmond...

Edited by mranderson1st, Feb 2 2013, 5:55pm :

MonoGame (open-source XNA) will still be here. They support many platforms inkl. Windows 8 Modern apps, which official XNA don't support. So this is not the end. I guess that Microsoft will endorse MonoGame from now on - which it already has done in practice by inviting them to their seminars.

Remember that Microsoft do support the third-party open-source community.

Rise and fall of managed runtimes in MS. WPF, Managed DX, Silverlight, now XNA, managed Windows UI, WinFS were all either abandoned or are approaching this state.

netsendjoe said,
If DirectX is the future then why have they not updated the Redistributable since June 2010 ?

Because it is a core windows technology now and as such included with the os. June 2010 redis was for dx9 if I'm not mistaken

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