A number of changes and improvements have been made in the latest XNA Game Studio update including support for in-game avatars, Xbox Live Party group chat for as many as eight players at a time, the ability to use video for game openings, logos and cutscenes, and much more. XNA Game Studio 3.1 creations can be submitted beginning in late July; for now, games submitted for playtesting and peer review must be XNA Game Studio 3.0 projects.
Microsoft will also be adding user ratings to Community Games as well as to "much of the Xbox Live Marketplace content including Arcade and Game Add-ons." Users will be able to sort content by rating once the system is in place.
The most obvious change, however, will be the name. Xbox Live Community Games is being renamed to Xbox Live Indie Games, which will "increase understanding and discoverability" of the user-created games. "We believe this name better represents the independent spirit of XNA Game Studio gaming and creations!" Microsoft said.
Specific launch dates for the Xbox Live Indie Games user rating system have not been settled but are targeted for sometime in the fall. For more information, check out creators.xna.com.