GDC 06: Marketplace potential runs deep

Xbox Live Marketplace director implores game makers to bring it on--more demos, more trailers.

At the 2006 Game Developers Conference in San Jose, almost all of the talk is about creating games.

However, the game isn't the entire product, said director of Xbox Live's content management group James Miller in a GDC presentation on Thursday. During a session titled "Xbox Live Marketplace and Future Directions," Miller argued that publishers should also focus on extended game content, such as trailers and demos.

Miller began with a short summary of the success of and issues associated with Xbox Live Marketplace, the Xbox 360's download center that was launched four months ago.

"Lots of people are using it, and since there are challenges, both game and marketing teams should plan for Marketplace."

The numbers he presented were impressive: more than 90 percent of Xbox Live users have downloaded items from Marketplace, and there have been over 10 million total downloads, including more than 3.5 million trailer downloads and 2.5 million demo downloads.

The focus of the talk was on how to use Xbox Live Marketplace's support for multiple types of content during and outside of a game's release. Before a game's launch, Marketplace gives publishers the ability to distribute demos and trailers to consumers. Miller encouraged companies to load Marketplace with more content, citing success stories of various demos since Marketplace has started. The Project Gotham Racing 3 demo, for example, clocked over 100,000 downloads despite both being a whopping 1.2 gigabytes and being made available after the game had its retail release.

Miler emphasized that this success could translate directly into increased sales, giving the next example of Electronic Arts' Fight Night Round 3. Not only was the demo downloaded 200,000 times in the first two weeks, but preorders of the retail version went up after the demo's release.

Miller also discussed the importance of providing high-quality trailers to sell games, saying, "People who have high-definition TVs set up with good stereo systems want to be able to watch high-definition trailers." He also encouraged publishers to release lower-quality trailers for customers without hard drives, small enough to fit into memory cards. Currently, most trailers are released in 720p and 480p formats.

But while demos and trailers all help games for their launches, Miller argued that Marketplace still has untapped potential even after games hit shelves. "There's a tendency in the industry to ship the game, then figure out the extended content," said Miller. In order to hit "the sweet spot for a launch, [publishers need to] make sure there's content available within 30 to 60 days of the release of a game."

He emphasized that there are many benefits to this strategy, such as keeping consumers interested in the title and providing an additional revenue stream. "From the launch and beyond, Marketplace will help to keep the game in the hearts and minds of everyone and is the biggest opportunity for gaming teams for significant follow-on success."

For publishers to achieve this kind of success, Miller pointed out that they couldn't look at add-on content as an afterthought. Instead, he suggested that they form a small, secondary team to begin development of add-on content before the game has shipped. This team allows the primary developers to focus on hitting the launch date, while still providing content after release.

Xbox Live Marketplace isn't just about game content, though, Miller said. He gave examples of content expanding outside of game trailers, including the popular machina Red vs. Blue and various high-definition movie trailers and music videos.

Miller explained his future vision of Marketplace as one that could become a "home media distribution point," and his desire for publishers to consider Marketplace during a game's planning and design stages. This desire could also be described by a quote from an Xbox forum post that he displayed at the beginning of his presentation: "I like Xbox Marketplace more than I like my dog."

And you can almost see Miller wagging his tail when he shows it.

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29 comments
CleptoPots
CleptoPots

"I hope the developers don't shortchange a released product by holding out on content, just so it can charge a few bucks more from the marketplace. Games are expensive enough, without having to get to the final room just to hear "Insert 600 points for the next level"." I agree, Dark Jedi.

Halo2_Norad
Halo2_Norad

I would love to download movies for a fee. Just think, XBL would also be a video store. OMG!!!! Do it Microsoft. DO IT!!!!

linegrinds
linegrinds

i hope they bring movies to it...

xDiesel9x
xDiesel9x

The Marketplace is AWESOME!! I download almost everything!! Ive already downloaded 93 items!! It is a great idea that was implemented extremely well and complements a great console!! I LOVE my XBox 360!!! I take a lot of pride in it and everything surrounding it!! It is my hobby and my baby!! Applause for Microsoft for putting it together and for constantly adding more content almost daily!!

GoddBless
GoddBless

Yeah the Market Place really does deserve all the hype Microsoft gave it. With the MP they showed us the future of gaming content. It was so great SONY is even trying to copy it. I just don't see them doing everything the MP does on their first try. They tried to copy Xbox Live with the PS Online thing and that was crap. They even made it free and allowed people with dial-up to play. Now they are going to leave the whole thing up to developers instead of making their own enviroment alongside it. I don't know if it's going to be as successful. Sure people will flock to it because it is SONY, but I don't think it will be of quality for that same reason.

Oni
Oni

Sounds pretty good! At least MS knows how to do this right.

anthony_basic
anthony_basic

Sony is Copying this feature. Those No talent bastards. No skills, no talent just like that flat faced japanese Ken Kutaragi

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

marketplace is dumb how the things cost a few hundred credits or whatever. why not just use dollar amts? (isn't it like 800 points = $10?) their not-so-smooth tactics don't fool me on how much something costs.

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

It's true...online demos are wicked...and saves me the $50 subscription to OXM...I never played a Fight Night or Soccer game before...can't wait to try out some tenis...now I'm getting worried about how many games I'll end up with. One thing I would like to see more of...movie trailers. "Narnia" in 720p on my 50" looks soo damn sweet...give me more!

mcgrawgamer
mcgrawgamer

i love x-live and marketplace. I downloaded the fight night demo among other things. but I like the way you can download the games and get a feel for them in the comfort of your own home. I antious to see what the PS3 will offer.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

UbiSoft and EA are showing hows it's done. They release demos and trailers for their games, and I can't help it but to keep myself interested and truly aware if the game fits my taste. I never bought the Fight Night games. However, after playing the demo of FN3 on XBox 360 over and over again with my friends, I bought the game on the first Dunday of if release. That's what I call "winning customers and fan base." Tecmo, I'm still waiting for Dead or ALive 4 items like Dashboard skins, gamer tags of all the characters (where is the love? Not everyboday prefers Kasumi or Helena, even though I love them).

DarkJedi8_basic
DarkJedi8_basic

I hope the developers don't shortchange a released product by holding out on content, just so it can charge a few bucks more from the marketplace. Games are expensive enough, without having to get to the final room just to hear "Insert 600 points for the next level".

VividScientific
VividScientific

I love marketplace, got a sick looking hip-hop dashboard theme and Geometry Wars is rediculiously addicting. I cant wait for Mortal Kombat 3 to hit marketplace! Keep it comming!

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

well since ps3 and revolution offer the same thing except revolution is full games they will probably take ms out ms should make all game content free and demos some free some 4.99 depending upon how good it is ,and make it to where you can earn points by getting achievments , i dont see what is the deal with the whole achievment point thing its pointless if you cant be rewarded nothing for unlocking them

Benny_is_here
Benny_is_here

Yup, so hurry up with that extra content! I'm betting the FN3 sales went up because they got to see for themselves that it was in-game footage.

mrconfused
mrconfused

i like downloading demos so keep em coming

granitehole
granitehole

the demo aspect is great. i saw the review on here for quake 4 which caused me not to buy it, then the demo came out i loved it, bought the game and still enjoying it to this very day. this is deffinately a god send to developers.

Lauryn2000
Lauryn2000

Marketplace is one of the best online marketing ideas Microsoft has come up with to support online gamers on Xboxlive.

unreal_ed
unreal_ed

Its the principle of online buying that is great and it's what Amazon, Ebay, Itunes and others have understood very well.

unreal_ed
unreal_ed

Yes the Marketplace is great. Demos are extremely important of course but before xbox live silver, demo distribution was very limited. After all, word of mouth is extremely powerful (GalCiv2). And how many times have you guys bought a game that you tried at your friends house first but that you would never have bought otherwise? I know I did tons of times (Katamari Damacy)

LordDante360
LordDante360

MP is a great thing, got to admit its was abit slow to start of with (how much they added each week to it) but of late its starting to feel up nicely with somethink new every other day now, hopefully we will get new games/demos each week very soon so MP lives on and keeps making ppl come back every day..... The next step i can see coming will be films being added which i would think will be just before PS3 hits the stores/around Oct which is what they said last year but who knows......

veracity024
veracity024

yea its pretty swank. ill say..i still havent spent any points, but i bought 1600... gonna buy holdem prolly

israel_melecio
israel_melecio

this marketplace rocks so prepare ps3 youre about to get stomped

samekila
samekila

its great to download demos straight from marketplace a lot better then trying to buy all the magazine's to get the demos and demos have always been short in supply so this works great for me they really should put every game up new or old as many games as there is out there its great to test before buy

Imavnas
Imavnas

Scott: Im not a PS3 fan or a 360 fan (although I do own a 360) but the Network Sony outlined last week and further detailed this week is so similar to Marketplace that itll suprise me if it DOESNT do as great as Marketplace is doing. In the end itll be the killer original IP's that set the systems apart. On a more related note though, its nice to be able to download demos before a game releases. Personally I havent bought a game in the last 4 years. Im a huge rented gaming enthusiast and these demos actually save me renting money as well. Not only that, but recently Ive been interested in finally purchasing a few games and due to the Marketplace demos, I can decide wether my reasoning was justified or not. I agree with Miller; put more and more content on Marketplace. Make it so that every morning I wake up I see something new. That would be truly great.

Scottyyeahbaby
Scottyyeahbaby

Dude, marketplace kills.... for all you PS3 fans... good luck in your 1st gen marketplace. Xbox has the LIVE market and marketplace. Even the marketplace games are fun. Rumor....Let's have an "On Demand" Marketplace moives to watch. I would much rather pay $4.99 on maketplace and see the lastest movie than go to the video store and "Maybe" find that new release!

cheapshot91
cheapshot91

awesome. Makertplace has become a success

Fusible
Fusible

I can't lie marketplace is the best thing that happen to 360.