Deep breaths, everyone. I really wish GameInformer had picked a less sensationalist headline.
What the email from Microsoft actually said:
1) XNA is being retired from the MVP program on April 1 of 2014.
To start with, what is the MVP program? The MVP program is the Most Valuable Professional program at Microsoft. Microsoft MVPs are independent community leaders who help people around the world learn to better use Microsoft products. The MVP program is Microsoft's way of saying "thank you" to those leaders for their promotion and passion for Microsoft.
Before now, had you ever heard of the MVP program? I'm betting not - and if you had, you hadn't heard of it in connection with the RBN. That's because most (all?) RBN authors are uninvolved with the greater XNA community. As far as I know, there are no XNA-related Microsoft MVPs among the RBN authors. (As far as I know, there aren't even any at Harmonix.)
In short, the cessation of this program doesn't affect us. And if it did, it wouldn't affect us for over a year.
2) XNA is "not in active development".
This ought to come as no surprise. XNA was launched all the way back in 2006, so it's almost 7 years old at this point. XNA releases used to come out roughly once a year, but the last release for Microsoft XNA (XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh, updating XNA Game Studio 4.0 to support Windows 7.5) was on 10/6/11.
Why shouldn't we expect another release of XNA? Giant Bomb has more info here (http://www.giantbomb.com/news/the-fu...indows-8/3667/), but to sum up, the basic answer is Windows 8. As conceived right now, Windows 8 is the future of Microsoft and XNA is an aging framework that doesn't produce Metro-style apps.
But the RBN doesn't need Metro-style apps, or Windows 8, or even Xbox compatibility. Although the RBN takes advantage of the existing XNA framework, we are not producing games for Xbox or Windows phone - so we don't need the XNA framework to be updated. We just need the underlying XNA framework to be there, and to remain supported - supported, not actively developed - by Microsoft.
As long as Microsoft continues to support our specific use of the XNA pipeline, we're fine. And our plan is to support RBN for Xbox 360 as long as Microsoft continues to support us.
Wishing you a drama-free day,