David Jaffe (Calling All Cars) was quoted likening XBLA to Ashlee Simpson and an oldies radio station. How are you combating the notion that XBLA is merely for ports and retro arcade titles?
Jaffe is a brilliant designer, but he’s not exactly an unbiased observer. It’s a bit disingenuous to ignore XBLA games like Geometry Wars, Marble Blast Ultra, Assault Heroes, Small Arms, Catan… etc. It’s also a bit ironic, given that XBLA still offers significantly more original content than the PlayStation Network.
Phil Harrison, speaking last year prior to the launch of Sony’s e-Distribution Initiative (eDI), said “…what we’ve seen on other systems tend to be retro 2D games, and we’re pushing the 3D capabilities of the PlayStation 3.” How is XBLA competing against Sony’s eDI which emphasizes 3D and does not have the same size constraints placed on XBLA?
We’re lacking neither 3D content nor fun games. The best thing about XBLA is that it offers such a diverse array of great content. We have beautiful 3D games like Roboblitz and Undertow, casual titles like Zuma and Eets, classics like Doom and Castlevania, and all of them have been updated to include LIVE functionality. We’ll continue to lead the console downloadable games market by focusing on staying true to a vision of accessibility, diversity, and LIVE-enabled gaming.
Where do we go from here?
Will we ever get to that Live Anywhere dream of buying a game once and playing it on multiple platforms? (Refer to 3:54pm in the link)
Will we see cross platform XBLA titles that can play with Window Live users?
Yes. Cross-platform UNO, as demonstrated at CES, is a perfect example.
The episodic gaming model has created some recent success stories (Sam & Max and Half-Life 2 come immediately to mind.) Will we be seeing the episodic game model arrive on XBLA?
I’m really interested in episodic games, and have been for a long time. That said, we’re still trying to figure out the best way to bring episodic gaming to XBLA. We want to be sure that when we offer episodic content, it isn’t simply a mechanism via which to extract more revenue per hour of content from our customers. Episodic gaming can and should be more than a sales gimmick – it should engage consumers and it should evolve in response to consumer feedback, much in the way that good TV serials do. And it’d be nice if our episodic games had something to offer the community in between episodes.
Have you considered putting more large titles (i.e. retro retail titles) like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the service? How does that change the focus of Arcade? Will you (and if so, how so) differentiate these games in any way from the more bite-sized games of XBLA?
We’re always open to bringing more titles like Castlevania onto the service, but in general they are going to be exceptions rather than the rule. We want XBLA to be a place where you can quickly jump in and enjoy yourself. Too many people avoid or have given up on video games because they are so complex and time consuming. XBLA is one answer to that. That said, we’re quite cognizant of the fact that there’s tremendous demand for great games like Castlevania, and we’ll do our best to occasionally surprise you with those games. 🙂
Where are the trivia games? (You Don’t Know Jack, Trivial Pursuit, etc.)
We’ve definitely been evaluating trivia offerings, and we’ll keep you posted on if/when they’ll make an appearance on XBLA.
That concludes Part 2. Part 3 will cover David’s thoughts on the XBLA game certification process and XBLA’s notorious DRM amongst other tidbits.