Microsoft has released a consumer version of its game developing software dubbed XNA Game Studio Express.

The company announced last August that it was planning to use Xbox 360's Live features to create an amateur developers' community, now officially launched and called the XNA Creators Club.

Microsoft executive Peter Moore has called the network a YouTube for videogamers.

The application is available for free to anyone with a Windows XP PC, but membership to the club will require a subscription.

The XNA Creators Club is available to join on the Xbox Live Marketplace for $49 for a 4 month subscription, or $99 for an annual subscription. Aspiring game developers gain access to game assets from Microsoft and other supporters, like Turbo Squid.

To celebrate the launch of the free application, Microsoft is planning a Dream-Build-Play contest for XNA Game studio Express customers on Windows and Xbox 360 through the XNA Creators Club membership. The winner will have his or her game published on Xbox Live Arcade.

More details will be made available in January at the official launch of the competition.

According to the software company, 10 US universities plan to integrate XNA Game Studio Express software in the curriculum for student developers.

Microsoft has also promised that gamers who release their games in the Creators Club network will own the rights to them.