GDC 07: Fun facts about Live Arcade

With the Game Developers Conference set to kick into high gear Wednesday, Microsoft spent Tuesday running members of the gaming press through a gauntlet of informational sessions about its upcoming lineup of games. One such session featured Microsoft Casual Games product unit manager Chris Early...

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With the Game Developers Conference set to kick into high gear Wednesday, Microsoft spent Tuesday running members of the gaming press through a gauntlet of informational sessions about its upcoming lineup of games. One such session featured Microsoft Casual Games product unit manager Chris Early discussing the future of Xbox Live Arcade and showing off upcoming titles like Jetpac Refuelled and Boom Boom Rocket (which Early said will sell for 800 Microsoft Points, or $10).

After the traditional statistical recapping, Early mentioned a few things about Live Arcade that, while not exactly secrets, might not be common knowledge, either. For instance, Early further explained the move to increase the Xbox Live Arcade game size limit from 50MB to 150MB.

In formally announcing the size limit change on Monday, Microsoft said the new limit would give developers "greater flexibility in game design and [expand] the opportunity to add advanced game features while still keeping games compact." However, Early told at least one session of the gaming press that Microsoft hadn't anticipated how far over-budget developers would go optimizing their code in order to bring their games in under the limit. Going forward, he expects most games to weigh in between 50MB and 100MB, but noted that Microsoft will still grant exceptions to the size limit on a case-by-case basis.

Early also touched on Microsoft's efforts to bridge the Xbox Live Arcade between PCs and Xbox 360s. Beyond letting PC Uno players face off against Xbox 360 Uno players, Early said Microsoft plans to offer bundled versions, so that a customer can purchase both the Xbox 360 and PC editions of a game at a discount. However, he said the logistics had yet to be worked out.

Finally, Early addressed the somewhat inconsistent flow of Xbox Live Arcade releases. He said Microsoft would stick to releasing games only on Wednesdays, but did say he could see a point where eventually the company would be releasing multiple games each week. That point isn't likely to come soon, however. While there are more than 200 Live Arcade games in development, Early said the publisher has no backlog of titles that have passed certification at the moment.

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