xna.JPGFollowing an earlier announcement that Nintendo will allow independent developers to create games for download onto its Wii console through a platform called WiiWare, Microsoft yesterday unveiled its own platform, which will be able to take advantage of the Zune MP3 player.

Games developed with Microsoft XNA Studio by members of the “Creator’s Club,” a base of subscription-paying independent developers, will be available for download through through Xbox Live directly onto Xbox 360 systems, ranked by a community voting system.

The Zune, which has so far functioned only as a media player, will have downloadable games of its own. Newer Zunes have touch-screen controls (update: It’s actually a touch-sensitive control pad, below the screen itself) and wireless capability, so it shouldn’t be long until we see multiplayer games for the device.

With both Microsoft and Nintendo having opened significantly to independents, Sony is left as the only major console maker that has yet to make overtures to the developer community. However, as the PS3 is also able to download new content, it’s likely only a matter of time until they unveil their own platform.

Such platforms should help create new sources of revenue for small developers and gaming companies, as hit franchises from the Web migrate more often, and more quickly, onto consoles.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Learn more about membership.