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Xbox Live's Early Rising: Chris Early On The Growth Of Xbox Live Arcade
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Xbox Live's Early Rising: Chris Early On The Growth Of Xbox Live Arcade

June 26, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 7 Next

How much of a concern is it that you might flood the market in that way, even if you are just doing, say, two games a week for a couple of weeks in a row? Because surely that’s something that’s going to affect the amount of people buying the product that you’re putting out there?

It is a concern that, as more product comes into the service, there’ll be less purchases on average per game, but we’re not really seeing that. We’re hearing just the opposite of that from our player base – they want more, and a greater variety of titles. I don’t think you’ll ever see, say, ten titles on one day or something like that. I just don’t see the value in putting out that many titles through our service.

But certainly, a couple of titles a week is doable and stomachable from the perspective of the player community. Then again, that’s why there’s the genre difference, I guess. If you happen to be a guy who loves puzzles – or a girl who loves puzzle games – then you don’t want all of your puzzle games to come out on the same day because then you might buy one and not get around to trying the other one. But if every week you get an action game and a puzzle game, you know which one you’re going to buy.

What kind of feedback have you had from gamers about the service?

I think overall it’s been extremely positive. People love the ability to get in and play a game – a quick, easy to pick up game. Whether it be a trial of one of those games, or to actually have on they can play in between the retail games.

We got a lot of feedback early on about what games to bring to the service – I think there was even an article on Gamasutra at some point. We continue to make our way down those lists and it’s actually kind of heartening for us when we see those lists and we look at our content pipeline; there’s a pretty good lineup overall. We know that we’re bringing what people want.

We’ve also done the submissions from the independent community – we try to make sure there’s independent slots available for people to come and develop. I think people have responded to that very well. It’s been good in terms of helping with the development, but also in terms of the tools have made overall – with XNA Studio Express people can actually make an arcade game for publication.

I think we’ve listened to player, we’ve listened to publishers, we’ve listened to the development community. One great example of us listening to developers is regarding the lifting of the 50mb file size limit on Arcade games.

We put it there originally to give everyone the same size canvas knowing that as games moved from floppy discs to CD to DVDs, you just end up with more and more content. We tend to find from the production costs of games that people strive to fill whatever medium they have. That was one of our attempts at saying, ‘Well, we want these games to be small, we want them to be accessible, and we want them to download quickly and we want them to be able to be played and enjoyed quickly’.

If you talk to most developers, or even gamers who have played for a long time, they will go back and talk about some of the early game play mechanics that were so good – because you really had to focus on gameplay, not art, or something like that. That was our real focus. So from talking to developers, we found that they were spending a little too much time – in our opinions – trying to optimize for 50mb, rather than making a great game. After hearing that, we had a look at what might work, and that’s when we moved the file size to 150mb.

Even with that, there’s not a whole lot of room for “excess”, really.

No, I don’t think so either. Again, that comes back to what the nature of Xbox Live Arcade is. It’s never going to be a service where you can download a full retail game, nor do we expect it to be or anything like that. we see it as a playground where you can get these games that you are able to get quickly, get into quickly, play and have a great time. And you can play them a bunch! It’s that easy-to-learn-difficult-to-master type of concept.

What kind of connectivity do you see happening between XNA and Xbox Live Arcade in the future?

It’s certainly a great trial ground, as we’ve seen from a couple of the concepts that have gone on or are going on. Right now, you can create a game and you can share it amongst the creator community, and you can see that game come to your own Xbox. It’s not a worldwide distribution service, but for those people that make games or are willing to experiment with Game Studio Express, it’s great to be able to do that.

I think what we’ll see is that we will have more people using Game Studio Express as a mechanism for developing their game. As the Live service – and, as you know, we’ve just launched on the PC now – as it continues, it’ll make it that much easier to develop a title across a couple of platforms. That’s one of the key advantages to using managed code – you can, with a very minimal amount of additional work, have that same game running on the PC.

How closely are you keeping an eye on what’s happening in the XNA developer community?

I hope we’re keeping a pretty close eye. [Laughs]

That’s what the competitions are for.

Yes, exactly. [Laughs] But that’s our lifeblood really. I could make the best service in the world, but if the content sucks, no one is going to come. It’s the developers who create the content, and we would not exist without them. So, going back to your first question about the state of Xbox Live Arcade? I’d say it’s extremely healthy if the interest coming from developers is any measure.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 7 Next

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