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Xbox Live Arcade – A Success, No It’s A Failure February 18, 2007

Posted by dpcough in Editorals.
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Another week, another editorial. This week I examine Xbox Live Arcade and realize the harsh reality of it. Xbox Live Arcade is a failure all across the board. First off, let’s give some background info on Xbox Live Arcade for a few paragraphs then I’ll point out the many faults. Read the full story of faults and how it needs to be fixed after the break.

When I have put some more thought into it I realize I missed the point I wanted to get across by being too dramatic in the editorial. I enjoy XBLA but I wanted improvement. When I was writing this and thought about the recent release of Paperboy guess it screwed up my whole article! I’m learning. It’s only the second opinion based column. The next one will be a lot better and I am working with some people on how to best approach it. Just like my sloppy podcast I did sloppy writing. Next week’s editorial or new name for it which I am brainstorming on now will be much better. Read the editorial if you want a good example of bad writing.

Next week will be a really good editorial. I keep saying great year for Live Gamer in 2007, instead maybe it should be still learning at Live Gamer in 2007.  

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Microsoft announced Xbox Live Arcade a long time ago and experimented on original Xbox with the idea of it. It was got small sales but it was just a testing ground. I call Xbox Live Arcade on Xbox a success because it was a bigger scale beta test. Back at E3 05 one of the many features of Microsoft’s press conference (other than the paid crowd to cheer) showed how much Xbox Live grew up and it did when the console was released in the United States November 22, 2005. With it Xbox Live Arcade started with 10 titles with hits in Geometry Wars Retro Evolved and Hexic HD, well Hexic was good but everyone likes free stuff.

Xbox Live Arcade had a few more releases throughout the end of the year 2005. Microsoft had no clue what the hell to do with Xbox Live Arcade. Releases popped up, most were shareware quality software with minor upgrades like HD graphics. All articles praised arcade for its ease of use and always said Geometry Wars with praise. Then come to E3 06 and UNO was released. That was another hit but the most noticeable thing about that week was no games were released the rest of May, none in June.

On July 11, 2006 Microsoft seemed to gather its paper works and decided what the hell to do and came up with a plan called Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays. Every Wednesday arcade games would be released. Frogger was released and so were many more and the arcade had one game released almost every week. Some weeks the release was total crap with UNO decks, patches for games that were broken with to begin, and microtransactions that should’ve been in the beginning product (Lumines Live.)

Microsoft always talks about how great Xbox Live Arcade is for independent developers and independent studios had games released. Every single independent game was great and I enjoyed them all. Only problem is less than half the games for Arcade are new ideas. Most are things recycled from the Arcade. I wouldn’t mind the retro titles, if more than one was released a week. Pacman was released twice (Ms. Pacman was a carbon clone almsot other than the ribbon)!

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Microsoft wants independent developers to create games, so where are the independent studios creating games? Looking at the list of Arcade games in development it is mostly retro titles. Shouldn’t the titles be released by now? The games take forever to develop and only one game is released a week. A lot of companies want to make games for Arcade but is Microsoft not letting them? I can’t even think of an answer. One game a week is 52 games a week with some weeks without titles.

Xbox Live Arcade is a great idea but isn’t being executed. A platform within Xbox 360 was a great idea for downloadable revenue and easier for independent studios but I want the games released. The strategy of one game a week needs to be fixed with more than one game coming out. A lot of games come out on retail, over 160 (Peter Moore’s magic number he always used during the holidays.) So games are still purchased when mroe than one is released. I want to play Arcade but Microsoft doesn’t want me too.

A success for Arcade would be for games to be continually rolled out, not for a game to finish development in September 2006 and still not be released. Is Microsoft sitting looking at the ground at Worms HD? Certifications and bugs don’t take this long to work out.

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Another plague in Arcade is a service for Casual Gamer. That is a good idea but casual gamers don’t know what it is, if Microsoft put some ads on TV for it more people would notice it. Xbox Live Arcade Unplugged was a good reach to consumers but wasn’t marketed enough. Where are the ads for Arcade? Nintendo has ads for all of its games on the Nintendo DS on Nickelodeon every hour almost. Microsoft has a great platform and idea but needs to be executed. Here is how to fix it:

  1. Have more than one game released a week, DUH!
  2. Market it too more people, Root Beer Tapper only had 21,000 purchases (there are 300 million people in the U.S.)
  3. Speed up certification and stop playing with the Viva Pinata action figures wasting time.
  4. A game with Halo helps any platform…..so make one for Arcade.
  5. They opened up development in XNA, go find good talent and use it for Arcade games.
  6. Fund the independent studios and they can pay you back when their arcade game sells a lot of copies.

It’s simple and easy, I put it in the simpler terms for six points. Microsoft, Arcade is broken. Go fix it. Need help, I can give you guys some time – send me an e-mail.

Do you consider Xbox Live Arcade a success or a failure? Comment your thoughts.

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