Although hardly news anymore, Microsoft's annoucement of a free XNA Game Studio Express is well worth mentioning. At launch it will only allow for Windows development in C# with the XNA Framework (R.I.P. Managed DirectX), but they will eventually include support to build games for the Xbox 360.

How cool is that?

Granted, you have to join the XNA Creator's Club with a "value-added" price of $99 per year to develop *OR* even play someone else's games (via FAQ). But, that's still quite a bit cheaper and with less red tape than an official Wii developer's kit (hint: $2,500-$10,000).

Beta begins Aug. 30.