Since my last post on XNA, I've been literally swamped by an e-mail asking for some clarification around licensing XNA Express in Academia. So, where are we at?
Both the XNA Framework and XNA Express (and therefore Visual C# Express) are free. It will cost you nothing to write games with these tools.
If you want to run your game on the XBOX 360, you'll need to have the XNA Framework installed on your 'box. The framework will be available to XNA Games Creator Club subscribers, and it's this subscription that carries the $99 / year price tag. Full details of the subscription contents and benefits have yet to be released - expect more soon.
So, to run the games on a 360 carries a $99 pricetag. How will this work in Universities? In the long-term, we're pushing to make this part of MSDN AA, but before then, we've got two options:
a) Universities purchase the XNA subs per machine, bound to a university-owned gamertag/account. The tags can be loaned to students for the duration of the course and reclaimed at the end. If a student wants their own sub, they have to purchase it
b) have students purchase the subs for the course. There will be a $49 for 4 month sub for this.
So, this is where we are. I can see the cost being an almost-trivial issue in most western countries, but can't see how this is going to work across the globe. I know we're working on academic discounts for the product, but expect this to take a little longer.