r.jpgOn Wenesday, Microsoft and Nintendo both announced that their popular video game consoles would be able to play games written by independent developers. The games would be available via both company’s online services. The announcement is part of an effort to somehow tap the large enthusiasm for “casual games.”

The U.S. Gaming industry is a huge market, some 18 billion yearly. But licensed sequels and heavy-hitting blockbuster titles dominate that market. From concept to code, major game titles can cost tens of millions to produce. Far better for the industry then, if gaming fans wrote their own games at home, finding marketability from names like Nintendo and Microsoft.

Under an initiative called XNA, Microsoft started offering game development tools to amateur enthusiasts almost 18 months ago. As for Nintendo, it’s WiiWare service will cut down on the cost and risk of developing new games. To say nothing of the fresh ideas that will hit the market with all these “indy” developers getting a shot at large, mainstream console fans.

News: Microsoft Opens Xbox Live to User-Made Games