Full game downloads, Avatar Marketplace coming to Xbox Live

E3 2009: Console maker announces plans for downloadable versions of Xbox 360 titles, user ratings also in the works.

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LOS ANGELES--A range of new Xbox Live services were announced during the Microsoft press conference this morning, including deals with Last.fm, Facebook, Twitter, and UK TV broadcaster Sky. At an invite-only "bloggers luncheon" immediately following the press conference, Xbox Live general manager Marc Whitten expanded on new developments for Xbox Live and followed this up in an open letter to Xbox Live members on Microsoft's developer network today.

The most important new feature not revealed during the press conference is the new Games on Demand feature, which will allow Xbox 360 owners to purchase and download full Xbox 360 games directly to their hard drive. Purchasers will be given the option to buy games using a credit or debit card, rather than using Microsoft points.

According to Whitten, "The Games on Demand channel will launch with a library of more than 30 great games, from classic hits like Mass Effect, BioShock and Assassin's Creed, to family favourites like Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga and Sonic the Hedgehog." He went on to add, "You'll have access to a wide variety of great games, downloadable in only a few hours and at the touch of a button. We've also added the option to purchase Games on Demand directly with your credit or debit card."

Whitten also announced a range of new features for New Xbox Experience's avatars, including "avatar items as awards when playing games." Microsoft and third-party publishers will be releasing a range of premium clothing and interactive props for avatars and revealed a costume based on Halo 3: ODST's Shock Troopers as an example.

Lastly, user ratings will be coming to Xbox Live Marketplace. A five-star rating system will allow users to rate games and game add-ons and sort games by user rating. For more about Microsoft's E3 announcements, read our full blog from the press conference and stay tuned to GameSpot for more Microsoft news over the week.

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