Underperforming XBLA titles to be delisted

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I just want to ask: Are you saying that there should be no confirmed list of titles to be removed from X-Box Live Arcade?

There is no such list at this point. Given the unpopularity with which the *suggestion* has been taken around the internet, it's quite possible that we won't even hear anything of the concept again. Beyond that, we're not dealing with a magic robot that follows exact rules - there's reasons why it's very easy for Microsoft to kick out small third party funded games and why it's less desirable for them to remove games from their favored corporate partners.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I just want to ask: Are you saying that there should be no confirmed list of titles to be removed from X-Box Live Arcade?

Nothing in my sentence there was about a list of titles to be removed from the service. Look at the context of the post. You posted some criteria for removal, and I replied saying that it was an inconclusive and informally "announced" list of criteria.
 

Darkpetzi

Swabbie
Banned
But like you said earlier, that's unfounded alarmist talk. Forget for a minute all the stupid internet that constantly bashes EA as a giant unfeeling monolithic company. Remember that EA is full of intelligent people that play games and are trying to do a good job. Lots of people within EA are huge fans of Wing Commander and want to do more with the franchise. Arena was an opportunity to do something, and it can only increase awareness and up the chances for more Wing Commander stuff down the line.

I hope you're right.
I'm sorry if I'm a bit harsh with EA but, as I said, I'm on the developer' side so I naturally have something against major publishers (especially when they're IP collectors). I'm sure they have great people there but in most publishing companies, it's not the ones taking the decisions when it comes to money (although I have to admit that EA is certainly not the worst one as far as I know).

As I'm sure you know the EA guys better than I do, Chris, and I'm quite satisfied with what you say for now. It's nice to have intelligent people to discuss with sometimes.
But I'm counting on you to keep us updated if you have any 'insider' news on this topic, ok? (Why am I even asking, I know you will...)

Anyway, thanks for your reassuring answer.

(Off-topic question, you may ignore it if you want: who's hosting the Arena servers btw?)
 

Flojomojo

Patron of the Nerdly Arts
There is no such list at this point. Given the unpopularity with which the *suggestion* has been taken around the internet, it's quite possible that we won't even hear anything of the concept again. Beyond that, we're not dealing with a magic robot that follows exact rules - there's reasons why it's very easy for Microsoft to kick out small third party funded games and why it's less desirable for them to remove games from their favored corporate partners.

I don't think this is going away just because of online complaining about it. Microsoft is running a business, and they're interested in making money. If their methodology determines that something is unpopular or unprofitable, all we can really do about it is vote with our wallets and buy what we like while it's available.

I think it's a drag that they're using Metacritic reviews to make decisions, because it's so easy to skew those numbers, but there's no arguing with conversion rates: either someone paid money for the game after playing the demo, or they didn't. Six percent doesn't seem overly harsh, considering there are well over a hundred different demos available on XBLA.

These games are like movie releases: there really aren't any "sleeper hits;" if a title doesn't make it big in the first few weeks, it never will. I know that one of my favorites, Space Giraffe, "bombed" in terms of sales, and it will probably be pulled from the online list. That's OK, I got my copy, but it will be a shame if no one else gets to play it. I suspect Wing Commander Arena will suffer the same fate. Would it kill them to bury these games on an "archive" screen someplace?

LOAF, regarding "second parties," (ugh, I hate that term -- WE the consumers are the 2nd party): What makes you think that Microsoft is so willing to be EA's bitch, over a downloadable game? Surely both companies have bigger interests. Wing Commander Arena cost something like $200K to develop, and that's probably about a month's worth of marketing for something like Madden Football, just to name one of EA's big properties. Either WCA already made its $200K development budget back, or it's just sitting there with its big yellow 51 Metacritic score, stinking up the place and "making XBLA look bad."

There are more details about the proposed "delisting" plan at http://gamerscoreblog.com/team/archive/2008/05/24/559300.aspx
if you want to hear it straight from the source.
 

Death

gh0d (Administrator)
LOAF, regarding "second parties," (ugh, I hate that term -- WE the consumers are the 2nd party): What makes you think that Microsoft is so willing to be EA's bitch, over a downloadable game?

You mean besides EA also being a major producer of games to play on the Xbox 360, like... oh, say, Mass Effect, Command & Conquer series, the EA Sports lineup (26 games, as per EA.com), Rock Band, Army of Two, Need for Speed, Medal of Honor series, and the Battlefield series?

No company lives in a vacuum. Some may be less affected by external influences than others, but ultimately any public company can not ignore its suppliers and/or its customers (and I mean all its customers, not just the "hardcore l33t d00d" ones that are numerically a very small part of video game purchases, but seem to be great masses because they screech the loudest and are ready to fling shit at anything not fitting their prejudices) completely if they want to stay in business.
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
There are more details about the proposed "delisting" plan at http://gamerscoreblog.com/team/archive/2008/05/24/559300.aspx if you want to hear it straight from the source.

I was going to point out every single flaw in this idea. That people who write news blogs understand things like a spoon understands the taste of food. About how the people who read and trust that kind of tripe are predisposed to suggestion, and don't use their higher brain functions.

But then I saw your XBLA gamercard has Penny Arcade and Battlestar Galactica on it and I think that speaks volumes of my point entirely.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I don't think this is going away just because of online complaining about it. Microsoft is running a business, and they're interested in making money. If their methodology determines that something is unpopular or unprofitable, all we can really do about it is vote with our wallets and buy what we like while it's available.

Lets be honest, though, conversion is a completely impossible to measure concept. Back when you had to choose to download a demo and when Microsoft included it as an empty sheet in your public profile, conversion was great (30-40%, as mentioned above). Now who knows? It can't be measured by us anymore... and we look at things like that update that switched every Xbox to automatically download the weekly demo. Are these being counted against the total number bought? In all likelyhood, neither -- this is Microsoft's get-out-of-jail-free option... and second party stuff like Arena is probably where they'd choose to use it.

Personally, I would suggest that you all press Microsoft for a free or discounted release to build up interest in the game - maybe now that the general stupids have found new shiny things to complain about everyone can have some fun. It's really the perfect 'lots of people play together' XBLA title.

I think it's a drag that they're using Metacritic reviews to make decisions, because it's so easy to skew those numbers, but there's no arguing with conversion rates: either someone paid money for the game after playing the demo, or they didn't. Six percent doesn't seem overly harsh, considering there are well over a hundred different demos available on XBLA.

Well, lets be proactive - is there some way we can skew these numbers ourselves?

These games are like movie releases: there really aren't any "sleeper hits;" if a title doesn't make it big in the first few weeks, it never will. I know that one of my favorites, Space Giraffe, "bombed" in terms of sales, and it will probably be pulled from the online list. That's OK, I got my copy, but it will be a shame if no one else gets to play it. I suspect Wing Commander Arena will suffer the same fate. Would it kill them to bury these games on an "archive" screen someplace?

I don't think you understand how analogies work: the concept of a 'sleeper hit' is something specific to movies... so if Xbox Live Arcade *doesn't* have them, then it must *not* be like movie releases. Nevertheless, I think that's wrong at this point - Microsoft *has* had several 'sleeper hit' Xbox Live Arcade titles which were achieved by manipulating the service in exactly the same way Hollywood manipulates movie rermarketing -- including discounting titles temporarily, re-releasing them as attached units (ie, on new memory cards, with a subscription card on an XBL Gold service, etc.). The subsidized 'free' release of Undertow several months ago allowed the developers to pay for the release of an addon.

LOAF, regarding "second parties," (ugh, I hate that term -- WE the consumers are the 2nd party):

I'm not sure how someone could think that consumers are second party *developers*. I can't even figure out how someone would idiot this out - even if you didn't understand the idea that massive publishers like EA help decide the success of particular consoles, there's no logical way to put the consumer between first and third in this system.

What makes you think that Microsoft is so willing to be EA's bitch, over a downloadable game? Surely both companies have bigger interests. Wing Commander Arena cost something like $200K to develop, and that's probably about a month's worth of marketing for something like Madden Football, just to name one of EA's big properties. Either WCA already made its $200K development budget back, or it's just sitting there with its big yellow 51 Metacritic score, stinking up the place and "making XBLA look bad."[/QUOTE

Arena is a great game, though, and I'll argue that point until I'm tired of yelling at stupid people and then ban them from my chat zone.

There are more details about the proposed "delisting" plan at http://gamerscoreblog.com/team/archi...24/559300.aspx
if you want to hear it straight from the source.

That just confirms that there's absolutely no problem, though - if Arena is "delisted" we can still continue to play it normally. If you haven't bought Arena yet, you're a terrible person and certainly shouldn't be in this corner of the internet. If it's taken off the for-purchase list then we'll send around copies of the physical demo so people can buy it that way.
 

Cardinal

Spaceman
There are more details about the proposed "delisting" plan at http://gamerscoreblog.com/team/archive/2008/05/24/559300.aspx
if you want to hear it straight from the source.

After reading through all that, I can't believe this delisting process will ever come to fruition. The reasons against it are just too numerous:

- There seems to be a wide disapproval for it among the XBLA community. I think I saw only one positive remark in that whole list of comments. Granted, those people would probably not be so vocal, but still...
- The reasoning behind it is weak. "There's a lot of games, and we need to filter them out so that people can find them easier." 130 games just doesn't sound like enough to cause the type of problems they describe.
- Delisting is just a short-term solution. At the rate that new games are being made, XBLA will be back to 130 games in no time. What will they do then? Perform another delisting? In order to remove enough games, they may have to up the eligibility criteria to higher levels, which will tick off even more customers.
- The long-term solution is fairly straightforward. Just create a credible sorting mechanism. Heck, instead of delisting, just put them in a "Oldies" or "Bargain Bin" category. It can't be that difficult, can it?
- It seems to go against one of the main selling points of XBLA. Digital distribution allows for unlimited shelf space. If XBLA goes about delisting titles, it becomes no better than Best Buy or Gamestop in that respect.

In the back of my head, I wonder if this is some sort of play to get developers to agree to lower the price. XBLA could be using the "sorting" problem as some sort of excuse to delist the games - which no developer wants. When the developer cries foul, XBLA would then say, "Well, I guess we could perform use a different sorting mechanism and make a 'Bargain Bin', if you guys would agree to drop the game by 200 points..." But who knows? Whatever the case, they're shooting themselves in the foot if they go through with this.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
What makes you think that Microsoft is so willing to be EA's bitch, over a downloadable game? Surely both companies have bigger interests.

Continuing to let Arena have one line in the XBLA store isn't being anyone's bitch. That's a silly overdramatization. It doesn't cost Microsoft anything to continue listing EA's games. A lot of people in this thread are not understanding that EA wants to get into the downloadable games market in a big way. Boom Boom Rocket and Wing Commander Arena are their one-two punch on the Microsoft platform. Removing Arena would be an insulting setback for EA's plans, so it shouldn't even be on the table.

Xbox360 Fanboy has posted a list which contains titles that meet 2 out of the 3 criteria needed for "de-listing", and sadly WCA is up among the list.

This isn't a big deal. 1 of the 3 criteria is that the game has been out for 6 months. That's the vast majority of all games on the service and isn't some knock against Arena. Secondly, Metacritic is a pretty lame criteria if it's really something being used. What's so special about them? Why not use GameRankings where Arena's composite score is higher? And with both of them, 2-4 positive reviews are all it would take to slant the numbers out of the arbitrary danger zone here.

Seriously, people need to not take these delisting ideas so seriously. They're obviously preliminary and not very well thought out yet. Wing Commander is a famous name. It's going to have a lot more demo downloads than most of the crap on XBLA. And because of this, it's going to have a relatively lower conversion rate and a relatively higher raw sales total. It's going to sell a lot more copies than "high conversion rate" no-name games that nobody ever downloaded. Raw sales is the most important thing, and that's obviously going to be more important than the three worthless critieria that have been named so far.

In the back of my head, I wonder if this is some sort of play to get developers to agree to lower the price. XBLA could be using the "sorting" problem as some sort of excuse to delist the games - which no developer wants. When the developer cries foul, XBLA would then say, "Well, I guess we could perform use a different sorting mechanism and make a 'Bargain Bin', if you guys would agree to drop the game by 200 points..." But who knows? Whatever the case, they're shooting themselves in the foot if they go through with this.

Yeah, that's not an implausible scenario. The current Dashboard sorting for Arcade games isn't that great. The Wii virtual console, which has lapped XBLA in number of games released, doesn't have this shelf space problem. The Wii store interface has a longer list of "most popular downloads" and more options to sort by genre and publisher. If the store really is that overcrowded, there's much better ways to slim and sort it than deleting games.
 
Top