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Hi I want to release my XNA game to the XBOX platform, but I'm worried about the networking limitations. Basically, I want to have a dedicated (authoritative) server, but it sounds like that is not possible.

Which is why I'm wondering about:

  1. Using port 80 web calls to php-driven database
  2. Using an xbox as a master-server (is that possible?)

I like the sound of #1, because I could write my own application to run on the xbox, and I would assume other users could connect to it similar to the p2p architecture. Anyone able to expand on theory #2 above? or #1 as worst-case scenario?

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Networking with XNA on Xbox is limited to the Games for Windows Live architecture. If you go with a PC game, check out lidgren. –  Justin Skiles Oct 2 '12 at 15:53
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A is not possible, you can only work within the XNA networking framework on the xbox. This means connecting to xboxes with identical games running.

Re. option B, the server. You would have login in your game that checked something like your gamer id/name and if it was you it'd run in server mode, otherwise run in client mode.

This is has been done before and is fairly unreliable and not recommended as other xboxes won't always be able to see you and you'd need to leave your server xbox running constantly.

You mention a P2P architecture, but also of using the an xbox as a server (and others a clients presumably). This is somewhat contradictory (to me).

Another limitation you'd have is there is a limit that 32 (i think) xboxes can connect to each other at once. So if you went down the server xbox route that's 31 players before others wouldn't be able to join your server.

XNA on the xbox really isn't geared for a persistent world, MMO-like game for the reasons above, but if you're intent on doing it good luck.

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