Microsoft to Introduce Repurchasable "Consumables"[xbox360]
During its Gamefest event, which had its second and final day today, Microsoft's Marketplace business manager Rohan Oommen gave a presentation entitled "Xbox Live Marketplace: Future of Digital Distribution." The presentation outlined a number of statistics pointing to the success of Xbox Live Marketplace, including that 75% of Xbox Live users have downloaded content at an average of over 20 items each, making for a total of over 40 million downloads so far. Xbox Live Arcade has been successful as well, with 65% of Live users downloading content with a demo-to-full version conversion rate of 22%. By contrast, conversion rates for PC casual gaming are more in the line of 1%. Interestingly, Microsoft has found that gamers seem to respond fairly well to a variety of Live Arcade price points; games priced at 800 points ($10) and 1200 points ($15) end up making more revenue than those priced at 400 points ($5). As far as extra in-game content, according to Oommen's presentation slides, "Gamers are hungry for Game Add-on content... [it's] not coming fast enough." This segment too appears to be fairly price insensitive, as there is a "core audience for each game that downloads all add-on content for that game."
One new initiative revealed in the presentation is "Consumables." Consumables are repurchasable in-game assets delivered via Xbox Live Marketplace. They may consist, for example, of in-game currency or better equipment for the player's character. The technology behind Consumables will be added to the fall version of the Xbox 360 SDK. According to 1UP, Microsoft also hopes to make this technology directly integrated within gameplay, meaning players would be able to spend real world money on in game items without even leaving the game in question and visiting the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Xbox 360 to get HD-DVD for $200?[xbox360]
HardOCP claims to have gotten a look at Microsoft's Xbox 360 roadmap, consisting of a few interesting bits of rumor. According to the site, the announced external HD-DVD drive for Xbox 360 will retail for around $200 and, as previously revealed, will not make use of HDMI. Other news outlets have also cited $200 as a likely launch price for the device. This is in line with reports coming from retailers earlier this year, indicating that Microsoft plans to make the combined price of an Xbox 360 and HD-DVD drive no more expensive than that of the higher-end PS3 model.
Silicon Knights Still Too Pleased with UE3[xbox360]
Despite the earlier lack of comment on the part of Too Human (X360) developer Silicon Knights or publisher Microsoft regarding rumors that the upcoming action game is no longer running on Epic's Unreal Engine 3, Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack has now addressed the matter directly. Dyack denied the allegations in a statement the company has delivered to the press:
"Although we do not usually comment on speculation, rumors of Silicon Knights completely scrapping the Unreal Engine 3 on Too Human and massive delays for the Too Human product release are false. Too Human is progressing very well and we expect that gamers will be extremely excited with Too Human when we next show it."
Too Human is slated for release in the first half of 2007.
PSP Revisits Planet Moon[psp]
Sega today announced that one of its "vintage brands" will be returning, though the company stopped short of revealing just which brand. Planet Moon, the studio behind Infected (PSP) and Armed & Dangerous (Xbox, PC), will be returning to Sony's portable console to handle development on this title. "SEGA's vast library of properties allows for unlimited possibilities in revitalizing fan-favorites on the PSP," said Planet Moon co-founder and CEO Bob Stevenson. "Our passion for Sega's classic brands combined with our extensive background in crafting original games will help us create a compelling new chapter in this fan-favorite franchise." Sega did not give any indication as to the release period for the game.
The publisher has two other recently announced retro revivals in the works as well. Totally Games, best known for the X-Wing and TIE Fighter franchises and more recently Secret Weapons Over Normandy (PS2, Xbox, PC), is working on a new version of an unrevealed Sega IP, and Secret Level (Final Fight: Streetwise) is heading up a new Golden Axe game for Xbox 360 and PS3.
Game Informer goes hands on with Sony Online Entertainment's Untold Legends: Dark Kingdoms (PS3).
Screenshots: Rayman Raving Rabbids (Wii, also PS2, Xbox, GCN, PS3, X360, NDS, PSP, GBA, PC).
GameSpy checks out Shiny Entertainment's Earthworm Jim (PSP).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Lock 'n Chase for the Intellivision. "One of the few Pac-Man inspired games to be worth a damn. Trap the cops between locked doors and get the timing right to pull off the big heist." (submitted by Carnivac)