In my opinion, the biggest Microsoft announcement at E3 today was made after their press conference was over. They announced a new Games on Demand service (coming this August). It has two important features:
- Full Games Available for Purchase on Demand: Microsoft will start selling full games on-demand via download through the Xbox Live Service starting this fall. Following in the footsteps of Steam (and to some degree Sony), this may be a critical inflection point on the path away from retail game sales. The 30 announced games are all older games (eg: Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock). Games are to be sold at regular retail prices (no disk-free, Gamespot/E.B.; disintermediation discount). Nothing was said about the future availability of new titles day-and-date with retail releases. With the service in place there is, of course, no technological reason why this couldn’t happen. It’s just a matter of time.
- A Step Away from Microsoft Points: Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog knows that I am a critic of Microsoft Points (see this post, for example). Games purchased through the Games on Demand service will be purchasable with a credit card. No Microsoft Points required. Amen! Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end for Microsoft Points.
For details see:
- E3: Microsoft Announces ‘Games on Demand’ at Xbox Live Luncheon (Gamasutra)
- Games on Demand Bringing Digital Retail to Xbox 360 (1Up.com)
- Good-bye Games in boxes? Xbox 360 to get full game downloads (CNet)