Direct download distribution of games through Microsoft’s new Xbox LIVE service will not disadvantage bricks-and-mortar resellers, according to the vendor.
Games on Demand will be launched on August 12. Through payment with a credit card or Microsoft Points that can be purchased from retailers, Xbox LIVE users will be able to download selected back catalogue titles directly onto the console. The service is available around the clock and game titles vary from country to county.
More than 670,000 Xbox 360 consoles have been sold in Australia, with over half of these connected to the Xbox LIVE community. There are over 20 million members active globally. While downloadable content is nothing new to Xbox LIVE, this marks the first time that members can obtain full version games with the online service.
The vendor maintains that this direct download approach will not cut out its reseller base. On the contrary, the company saw this as an opportunity for retail partners to profit. Microsoft Australia senior product manager, Andrew Jenkins, said Microsoft points is the saving grace in this arrangement.
“MS points are one of our strongest selling accessories at retail and as we grow our Xbox LIVE install base, there is an increasing opportunity to grow our retail revenue,” he said. “Also, with Xbox launching Movies on Demand later this year, this gives our retailers the chance to move into the movie retail business.”
To eliminate the inventory risks to shops that carry older games featured on the new service, Microsoft will be increasing the revenue that retailers will receive for Games on Demand titles.
However, broadband capability is also an issue. Files will not be compressed and download time hinges upon a customer's broadband speed. With an Xbox 360 game requiring the capacity of a DVD, it makes for a sizable file. This can prove to be a major drawback for users with restrictive download limits and speeds.
To combat this problem, Microsoft has been in discussion with several ISPs regarding unmetered Xbox download for Games on Demand and the impending Movies on Demand. iiNet is the only ISP currently offering unbridled Xbox traffic to customers.
The Games on Demand line-up at launch in Australia is:
- Kameo: Elements of Power
- Perfect Dark Zero
- Viva Piñata
- Call of Duty 2
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
- Viva Piñata 2: Trouble in Paradise
- Mass Effect