I attended, and was a speaker at, iSummit 2006, March 29-31, 2006 in Toronto, Canada. This entry is the second of two featuring my notes from the sessions I attended.
Xbox 360 Live Arcade
John David, the Lead Program Manager for Xbox Live Arcade, gave attendees a tour of this next generation videogame console’s Arcade service and revealed some other interesting factoids about the 360:
- Arcade gives Xbox 360 owners who connect to the Xbox Live service the opportunity to download and sample ‘simple’ arcade games. All are free to sample, but in most cases a small fee is required to play the full game.
- 50% of Xbox owners so far have connected to the Xbox Live online service.
- According to John, Arcade is a way for Microsoft to get the game console "back into the family room" where it will be used by all members of the family, not just the hardcore gamers.
- 3 million arcade games have been downloaded through Arcade.
- Microsoft had expected an average 8.5% conversion rate of Arcade game trials to purchase, but have been getting a remarkable 20% conversion rate instead.
- I learned a new term; John referred to a few of the Arcade games as "wife crack," meaning a game, usually puzzle based, that is highly addictive to the female spouse of a male gamer. (Of course, lots of women play videogames, but "wife crack" refers to games that appeal to spouses who normally never play videogames.) Microsoft is very interested in these "secondary" gamers (the spouse) because that’s where the growth in the videogame market lies. See also "gamer widow."
- While Microsoft’s focus is still on making the 360 "an awesome games box" the Xbox 360 console has other capabilities that make it directly competitive with current and future offerings from other major players, including cable and satellite companies.
- Microsoft will soon be adding music videos and song downloads to the Xbox Live Marketplace, some free, some paid. Hello, iTunes? It will be interesting to see what will happen when (not if) Microsoft adds TV shows and movies to the menu. Background downloading of large media files is apparently in the works.
- Xbox Live is also a communications platform: 600,000 text messages a day are exchanged on Xbox Live between its members.