Microsoft have opened registration for the Dream.Build.Play 2011 Challenge, a contest sponsored by Microsoft to encourage worldwide independent game developers to create fun and innovative games using XNA Game Studio. Developers can register for the contest at http://www.dreambuildplay.com. Once registered, they have from 17 May to 14 June 2011, to submit their games to the contest.

Each game will be judged on three standards: how fun it is to play, how creative and unique it is, and how well it is produced. Four winners will be given a share of $75,000 (U.S.) and the opportunity to receive an Xbox LIVE Arcade publishing contract. The grand prize winner will receive $40,000 (U.S.), the first prize winner will receive $20,000 (U.S.), the second prize winner will receive $10,000 (U.S.) and the third prize winner will receive $5,000 (U.S.).

“Microsoft has always valued the creativity and innovative thinking that comes from independent developers,” said Mark Seminatore, Principal Development Manager in the Xbox Advanced Technology Group at Microsoft. “We’ve hosted the Dream.Build.Play contest for the past five years in an effort to support and nurture that talent.”

Previous winners, including Beat Hazard, CarneyVale Showtime and Weapon of Choice, have gone on to become top sellers on Xbox LIVE Indie Games. In addition, several finalists from previous contests received Xbox LIVE Arcade contracts, including 2009’s winner, Dust: An Elysian Tail.

“Each year we are amazed at the quality of games submitted to the Dream.Build.Play Challenge,” said Pete Isensee, Principal Program Manager in the Xbox Advanced Technology Group at Microsoft. “I can’t wait to see what indie developers will create this year.”

All games submitted to the contest need to be created with XNA Game Studio 4.0, which enables developers to easily make games for Xbox 360, Windows-based PCs and Windows Phones. Since its initial release in 2006, XNA Game Studio has been downloaded over 1 million times, making it one of the most comprehensive and trusted game development tools in the industry.

More information on the Dream.Build.Play Challenge, including official rules, can be found at http://www.dreambuildplay.com. More information on XNA Game Studio can be found at http://create.msdn.com. Twitter users can follow the conversation about the challenge using the hashtag #DBP2011.