How Xbox LIVE Games on Demand can improve

I’m here to offer some constructive criticism on how I think the Games on Demand service can improve itself. A new Dashboard update was rolled out to the public yesterday (August 11) and, among some other trivial tweaks, Microsoft introduced a new ‘Games on Demand’ service, where you can download full Xbox 360 games right to your HDD without the need for physical media.


There’s a few issues with the service though. I’m going to address a few of these, and offer my suggestions as to what they can do to improve them.

Firstly, they need to do something about the pricing structure. Games such as Assassin’s Creed are on the Marketplace for £19.99. In fact, all Xbox 360 games on the Marketplace are this price. Even worse, the US prices are $19.99, meaning they’re paying roughly £12, which is STILL more expensive than a physical copy of the game! (game deal provided by Frugal Gaming)

I’m happy that they haven’t gone with the ridiculous points system for the games, as they do on the Arcade, Add-On and Avatar marketplaces because I don’t have to pay more than I have to, and then have a silly amount of points that I can’t get anything with — but they really need to think about the pricing structure. Nobody’s going to pay double the price for a DRM copy of a game that you can’t sell or trade in once you’re done with it. Want to take it round to your friend’s house to show him what he’s missing? Sorry, you’re either going to have to take your 360 along for the ride or he’s going to have to buy it. (well, he could come visit you too I suppose…) What I’m trying to get to is: variable pricing structure – it’s ridiculous to think that a flat-level price is a good idea.

My next issue is with the size of these games. These games are on DVD, output in 720p/1080i HD. I tried installing Halo 3 onto my HDD to make my 360 run a little bit quieter (most of the noise comes from the disc drive spinning). I can’t really say that I was surprised when I discovered it would take up 6.3GB – needless to say, my 20GB HDD just didn’t have enough space on it. I assume that all the other game downloads are of equivalent size, which means that unless you have the 120GB HDD that made its début with the Elite, you’re going to run out of free space very quickly. Considering most games have add-ons, map packs, etc. and can take up around 2GB without even being installed on the HDD makes this even worse.

Microsoft require you to use proprietary storage mediums on their system – to store game data and the like you need to have either an HDD or a Memory Unit (akin to the PlayStation’s memory cards)


The largest HDD you can get is the aforementioned 120GB model. The Xbox 360’s main (and only) ‘rival’ in this generation, the PlayStation 3, uses standard 2.5″ SATA HDD. So theoretically you can get as much storage as is available at the time – 500GB onwards if you so desire. The prices for Microsoft’s proprietary HDD are also atrocious — for less than the price of a 120GB Microsoft HDD, you could have 500GB in your PS3. Until they allow us to use external data storage, I can’t see their Games on Demand service being a big hit – because at this moment in time, all you’re doing by purchasing content from it is crippling both your wallet and your 360. And that’s not good for anybody!


5 responses to this post.

  1. What might be nice, by way of what I’ll call a “social demo”. Is if people on your Xbox friends list could download and try out a game you have bought, even for just a fixed number of times, once or twice, or once only for a week. This would solve the problem of parties, and would probably increase sales by people getting to try stuff out they might not have necessarily done.

    However, downloading one of your games to a mate’s Xbox, on the fly might not be good if it’s a long download (and I presume they all are). So really, you can’t underestimate the bandwidth of carrying a box around 😉


    • Posted by weetanhops on August 12, 2009 at 11:26 pm

      I quite like the thought of the “social demo”, it would justify the premium you pay on some games for having them in digital, DRM format versus the physical DVD.


    • Posted by pokeh on August 12, 2009 at 11:35 pm

      Well most of these games are on DVD’s. Around 6GB+ a piece, so yeah, long downloads.

      The prices for Games on Demand need to be lowered. I can get Assassins Creed for less than £10, I believe I can get Kameo for about a Fiver. It’s just not worth paying a premium for a game that offers very little in the ways of benefits to me.

      Even if the prices were lower, I still wouldn’t buy them because I prefer my games to be on physical media. No DRM/Downloads to mess around with. If I have the disc, I can play. Simple.


      • Posted by weetanhops on August 12, 2009 at 11:57 pm

        the biggest point i wanted to make (which is why i left it until the end) was the lack of support for external HDD. There’s just no way that 120GB is enough on this generation of consoles, with all the game add-ons and digital content. If I could get an extra 250-500GB on my 360 i’d be really pleased.

  2. Great blog post. I really enjoyed it 🙂

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