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Old 01-07-2010, 07:52 AM   #1
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The New Live 'Arcade'


Remember when the Xbox 360 launched? They introduced this thing called Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) and it was a smashing success. You'd be able to buy classic arcade titles for a mere $5 (or 400 MSP) or, if a developer felt like it, they could create an all new game and release it digitally for $10 (800 MSP). For a while, this remained the norm... some games broke from that mold slightly, but Geometry Wars almost single handedly ushered in a new era of digital distribution.

That pricing and original standard is long gone. We don't see any more classic arcade titles and instead find only bigger and pricer releases from studios. The games have moved into the more common $15 (1200 MSP) price point, and classics like Time Pilot and Tapper are a distant memory... Want to get the co-op achievement in Scramble? Good luck.

Last night though, as mentioned by pwnophobia, Microsoft held their keynote showcasing their latest, early leaked product titled "Game Room," which will bring back the classics potentially in a big (and more affordable) way.

There are a few interesting aspects to this. First of all, it takes the good part of PlayStation Home and compartmentalizes it. You'll be able to create your own arcade, share it with your friends and actually straight up play games in your own customizable spaces. Your friends will be able to demo the games you have in your arcade to see if they're into them or not. While the demo ability has been around since XBLA's inception, it centralizes these purchases. Yes, it's just an effort to socialize the buying process but at least it sounds OK. Still, lets hope that the developer has realized that maybe some people just don't want to walk around a virtual world and will provide the option of browsing games with a quick menu instead.

Secondly, Microsoft is re-introducing a real microtransaction. For 50 cents, you'll be able to play the full version of any game for as long as your skill allows you to. This is reminiscent of how people used to pump quarters into machines in those actual arcades, and honestly, there's a good chance some of these you'll just want to play once say "yeah, I remember that game! good times!" and not play it again. Of course, the pricing brings us to the third aspect...

You can buy the full games for 240 MSP each which is actually less than the original pricing for arcade classics on XBLA. If you think you'll play it at least 6 times, you may as well just buy it. This purchase allows you to play the game on one platform. Wait, aren't we just talking about the Xbox here? Nope... This will be available on the PC as well. Alternatively, you'll be able to buy it for the old pricing (400 MSP) which will allow you to play the game on both your PC and Xbox. The game'll have achievements, leaderboards and all the other jazz you've come to expect from normal XBLA titles.

It's currently unclear if the older games that are already available on Xbox Live Marketplace will be compatibile with this new "online destination" but from the verbiage within the fact sheet they sent out, I wouldn't hold my breath. They'll be releasing it with about 30 titles sometime this spring with new titles coming out weekly.

The nostalgia inside of me says that all of this could be a good thing. I put a fairly significant amount of time into Time Pilot when it was released, and Scramble? Dude yes. The cheap single-play pricing alone lets you mess with a quick game of Adventure or Combat without having to buy it... and if you're really good, hey maybe you'll earn all the achievement too.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:03 AM   #2
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First MS tries to copy two things people don't want... and we get Avatar's and the Natal. Now they are trying to copy another thing people don't want and we get MS Home instead of Sony Home.

Successful companies innovate, they don't copy failed concepts.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:16 AM   #3
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First MS tries to copy two things people don't want... and we get Avatar's and the Natal. Now they are trying to copy another thing people don't want and we get MS Home instead of Sony Home.

Successful companies innovate, they don't copy failed concepts.
Consumers didn't want motion sensing, but the Wii changed that. Natal is just MS jumping on the bandwagon. This new arcade doesn't sound like it has the scope that Home had.

And Microsoft rarely actually innovates their own ideas.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:22 AM   #4
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First MS tries to copy two things people don't want... and we get Avatar's and the Natal. Now they are trying to copy another thing people don't want and we get MS Home instead of Sony Home.

Successful companies innovate, they don't copy failed concepts.
I think you're dead on. It's become clear that Microsoft is starting to play catch up or copy-cat in almost every market they are in. (mobile phones, gaming, pmp devices, internet apps, you name it)

It's kind of like watching someone fall on their face in slow motion. What happened over there? Did all the talented people leave the company?
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:32 AM   #5
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If I set up an arcade, it would be cool if some of those MS points came my way when people ponied up to play. I have five kids to feed!
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:41 AM   #6
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I guess I am in the minority here, I like the idea of the Game Room.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:53 AM   #7
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I'm shooting for realism. My game room is going to be an atmospheric seedy poker hall complete with dirty drug pushing vagabonds and little kids who try to steal my microsoft points out of my pocket...
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:55 AM   #8
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Consumers didn't want motion sensing, but the Wii changed that.
Customers want motion sensing? Tell that to all the companies who keep saying that their titles aren't selling on the Wii.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:59 AM   #9
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I'm shooting for realism. My game room is going to be an atmospheric seedy poker hall complete with dirty drug pushing vagabonds and little kids who try to steal my microsoft points out of my pocket...
Don't forget the cheapskates who always asked for your "last man" or the ones who continually scoured the coin return slots looking for quarters.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:02 AM   #10
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Video Trailer:

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/e...contentListTop
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:12 AM   #11
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One thing I do miss about the old school arcades was the ability to spectate those players who were damn good. Although, most of the really good players were there for hours and had that lovely I-need-to-bathe smell going on.

If you saw the OnLive footage from Columbia last week, they are building that into their system as a neat nostalgic/voyeuristic feature.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:15 AM   #12
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I actually think it sounds kinda cool. I'm sure I'll try it out.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:18 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Venkman View Post
I think you're dead on. It's become clear that Microsoft is starting to play catch up or copy-cat in almost every market they are in. (mobile phones, gaming, pmp devices, internet apps, you name it)

It's kind of like watching someone fall on their face in slow motion. What happened over there? Did all the talented people leave the company?
I disagree. Yes, they're copying Home. However, they have been able to watch Home's failures and adapt it to a more compact version based on their pre-existing Arcade architecture.

It's a tried and true method to simply improve upon your competitions innovative products.

LOL @ charging more to play cross-platform though.

Plus, like, people on Live all have headsets and junk to play Donkey Kong with.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:23 AM   #14
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Customers want motion sensing? Tell that to all the companies who keep saying that their titles aren't selling on the Wii.
Fact.

The Wii has the lowest attach rate of any of the consoles as far as games are concerned. People are buying it for the novelty, getting bored of it, and not buying anything else. Or are buying it for something like Wii Fit and thats it.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:42 AM   #15
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OK I want you all to imagine a space where you can put 50 cents worth of MS points into a virtual kiosk and play one complete round of Gears of War 2 Horde mode. or one complete round of BF1943, or... you get the idea

It is coming sooner than you think.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:00 AM   #16
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I disagree. Yes, they're copying Home. However, they have been able to watch Home's failures and adapt it to a more compact version based on their pre-existing Arcade architecture.
Bullshit. That's not why they're building it. They're not setting out to do the concept right. They're mindlessly countering marketing bullet-points.

As with Natal, Avatars, HD-DVD, etc.

They're duct-taping on functionality so that they can say "we do that too". Because they don't have the balls or the vision to say "You know, the customers we care about, the ones we understand and the ones that like us, they don't care about waggle or dress-up."

They used to do that. And the XBox division itself was doing it as recently as the 360s launch. Live itself was the sort of forward-thinking, actual gamer-focused feature that got their foot in the door in the first place. Now they're just playing marketing defense.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:03 AM   #17
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OK I want you all to imagine a space where you can put 50 cents worth of MS points into a virtual kiosk and play one complete round of Gears of War 2 Horde mode. or one complete round of BF1943, or... you get the idea

It is coming sooner than you think.
Nah. Pay-per-use isn't popular with consumers or publishers. They're going to (try to) skip straight to subscriptions.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:09 AM   #18
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Last night though, as mentioned my pwnophobia, Microsoft held their

I KNEW you two were close, but does this make it official?
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:10 AM   #19
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In the DD space the only competition for MS is Steam. Now it's hard to consider the market overlap for Steam/MS players, but I'm an active member of both groups.

For sure Valve doesn't have and doubtfully would bother to create a 3d virtual space for their gamelauncher, but microrentals is actually better than free weekends for game titles becuase it can be always on.

What kind of impact would there be to XBox if Valve released a Steam Console? It could be significant, since all steam players would instantly have a catalogue of already purchased titles that would now immediatley run on their TV and offer free Multiplayer, Achievements, a rich forum system. The more I think about it, the better it sounds!

V-Box?
The Steamer?
ValveTV? VTV?
S720?
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:17 AM   #20
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Honestly I think this is a pretty decent move. I for one like the idea of easily seeing what cheap arcade games my "friends" are playing or have played. I had heard of Borderlands but when 4/5ths of my friends list were playing it when it came out, well I had to check it out and was pleasantly surprised. The same could be done in the cheap/downloadable realm.
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