Xbox Live update drops Aug. 11
[UPDATE] Games on Demand, Avatar Marketplace, and Netflix revamp are all less than three weeks away, reveals Microsoft; full video preview inside.
One day after it began soliciting testers for its forthcoming update of Xbox Live, Microsoft has officially dated it. The overhaul will go live on August 11 and will bring a variety of features to the Xbox 360's online service, which boasts more than 20 million users. (To date, more than 30 million Xbox 360s have been sold worldwide.)
As previously reported on GameSpot, XBL's Netflix streaming (accessible only by Xbox Live Gold subscribers) will be tweaked to allow users to edit their movie queues. Also new will be the addition of movie parties, which will allow players' avatars to watch films in a virtual theater and deliver commentary, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style.
Also new will be the Games on Demand service, which will replace the Xbox Originals store that offered downloads of...original Xbox games. After the update, both Gold and Silver subscribers will also be able to directly purchase digital copies of select Xbox 360 games, with Mass Effect, BioShock, Assassin's Creed, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga being named specifically. Manuals for the games can be downloaded and printed from a special section of Xbox.com.
Last but not least, the August 11 update will add the Avatar Marketplace to Xbox Live, allowing players to purchase new clothing and items with Microsoft points (bought with actual currency). Some of the objects for sale will be pulled from popular real-world brands, while others will be game-centric (Microsoft used Halo gear as an example). At last month's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft tentatively priced some avatar items, with a T-shirt running for MSP80 ($1) and an "interactive prop" going for MSP320 ($4).
Unfortunately, several Xbox Live features promised during Microsoft's E3 press briefing won't be part of the August 11 update. The company said that 1080p video playback, Zune video downloads, and integration with Twitter, Facebook, and GameSpot sister site Last.fm are all due "later this fall."