Microsoft GDC 2004 Keynote CoverageOn a decidely warm, sunny day in California, the opening keynote address for the Game Developers Conference offered plenty of surprise and insight to the evolution of the gaming industry. The San Jose Civic Auditorium quickly filled with eager attendees hoping for information on the enigmatic successor to the Xbox; however, the announcement made on Wednesday certainly involves something green, even if it isnt the next Microsoft console. An hour presentation given by executives Robbie Bach and J. Allard illuminated the community of developers on the direction Microsoft will take in the next-generation of gaming with the proprietary software platform XNA. Beginning with Robbie Bach, the keynote address analyzed the current state of the industry by asserting the strong presence of interactive entertainment in popular culture and modern economics. The growing costs of providing games to a mass market, however, are slowing down innovation and the desires of consumers are causing development to grow more difficult. Bach outlined several consumer expectations, most notably the drive for online connectivity. To date, Xbox Live has nearly 750 000 subscribers, a figure that Bach asserted as evidence for the markets drive toward ubiquitious connectivity. Consequently, increases in technology and the demand for better gaming experiences require support to developers to ensure they provide what makes games great: content.