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Microsoft opens third annual Dream-Build-Play game design competition, announces new developer tools

LONDON– 25 March 2009 - Kicking off the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft today announced the third annual Dream-Build-Play global game development competition that encourages aspiring and hobbyist developers to create new and innovative games for Xbox 360.

Beginning Monday, April 6 developers from all over the world will have an opportunity to submit their unique game creations to the Dream-Build-Play 2009 competition for a chance to win a cash prize and an opportunity to sign an Xbox LIVE Arcade publishing contract. Winners will be announced this fall. Last year, more than 7,800 members of the community enrolled in Dream-Build-Play, yielding more than 350 completed games from all over the world developed using Microsoft’s free XNA Game Studio tools.

Several of last year’s winners, including Team GAMBIT for“CarneyVale: Showtime” and Mommy’s Best Games for“Weapon of Choice,” collectively took home more than $70,000 in prizes and have since become top sellers on the Xbox LIVE Community Games Channel. Winners from 2007,“The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai,”“Blazing Birds” and“YoHo Kablammo!” from the United States, Canada and UK respectively, are all slated for release on Xbox LIVE Arcade in the coming months.

Microsoft also announced new updates to its free XNA Game Studio development tools, available to professional and hobbyist developers this spring, which will allow developers at any level to take advantage of new partner additions and Xbox LIVE features. Community Games developers will be able to include customized Avatars, which have quickly become one of the most popular features on Xbox LIVE, and professional Xbox LIVE Arcade developers will be able to release game add-ons like episodic content and include LIVE Party functionality making playing games a social experience by letting gamers seamlessly play and chat with their friends online.

“The level of innovation and the number of submissions we receive each year to Dream-Build-Play has increased exponentially because the development community is becoming increasingly familiar with the XNA Game Studio,” XNA General Manager Boyd Multerer said.“I’m really looking forward to seeing what developers are able to create with the latest LIVE features and updated tools at their disposal.”

The XNA Game Studio update, which will also include improvements like video playback and new audio APIs, means that more games featuring Avatars and LIVE Party could start appearing on Xbox LIVE as early as this fall.

Additionally, Microsoft reinforced its commitment to professional developers with the preview of new Xbox 360 Development and Test Kit hardware. This hardware includes additional debugging memory that allows developers to more efficiently produce games, push the console to its maximum capabilities, and ensure the best titles continue to be created for Xbox 360.

More detailed information about XNA can be found by visiting http://creators.xna.com. For additional information about Dream-Build-Play, visit www.dreambuildplay.com. For additional information about previous Dream-Build-Play winners, visit www.Xbox.com.

For product shots of the professional Xbox 360 Development Kit, please visit http://creators.xna.com/press

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For press information, please contact:

Kate Szlendak / 0118 909 5334 / i-kaszle@microsoft.com

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is a superior video game and entertainment system delivering the best games, unique entertainment features and a unified online gaming network that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 has a portfolio of more than 300 games in nearly 40 countries. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

About Microsoft Game Studios

Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game systems, the Windows operating system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows ( http://www.microsoft.com/games), including such franchises as“Age of Empires,”“Flight Simulator” and“Zoo Tycoon”; Xbox and Xbox 360 ( http://www.xbox.com), including such games as“Gears of War” and franchises such as“Halo,”“Fable,”“Project Gotham Racing” and“Forza Motorsport”; and MSN Games ( http://www.games.msn.com), the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as“Bejeweled” and“Hexic.”

About Xbox LIVE

Xbox LIVE connects more than 17 million members across 26 countries to each other and the entertainment they love. Home of more entertainment from one remote than can be found from any device connected to the television, Xbox LIVE is also a unified online social network bringing friends together, no matter where they are— in the living room or across the world. More information and Xbox LIVE membership can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-us/live.

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Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq“MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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