Xbox Live Marketplace -- Small Developer Nirvana?

I’m surprised that nobody has posted this yet. According to this article, Geometry Wars has been downloaded more than 200,000 times, and 45,000 people have bought the game. This is an astounding 22.5% conversion ratio – given that independent developers frequently talk about 1-2% conversion ratios being acceptable, I would imagine that every independent developer worth their salt is (or should be) hauling ass to bring out games on Live.

This strikes me as a fantastic opportunity for people making games in genres that are not currently represented on Live – RPGs being one of them.

It does seem pretty good, but I’m told they are selling most titles $10. That’s around half the cost of the usual marketplace.

I’m also doubtful we’ll still see those kind of conversion numbers once the product pipeline is full.

“I’m also doubtful we’ll still see those kind of conversion numbers once the product pipeline is full.”

Exactly. 360 owners are starved for content right now and downloading games on a console is a novelty at the moment. At some point it won’t be a curiosity and there will be 50-100 titles competing for download sales.

I’d be more interested in the numbers from the other marketplace games. Geometry Wars is the most talked about by an almost exponential number.

I think people will continue to look at the content. It’s simple to find it and when you’re bored with what you already have, you can hop in there and start playing demos all you like. If the smaller developer is smart enough to put together a game as entertaining as Geometry Wars Evolved, they will be rewarded.

As another revenue stream beyond a PC shareware version of the same game, I think it’s worth the investment. You’ve got to develop your game to support both controller and keyboard though. Something turn-based and on the complexity level of Advance Wars would be exactly the type of game that could thrive on the Live Marketplace.

Also, consider that it’s the perfect market for the return of all your favorite classic games. The likes of Namco, Midway, Konami, Capcom, etc. would be insane not to put evergreen arcade titles onto Live Arcade. PC game makers should be digging into their archives for stuff they can repromote as well. Take a few programmers and let them run wild with something like a Live playable version of Descent. There’s no doubt in my mind that the short time investment would be worth the download sales.

Don’t knock this part of the system unless you have experience with it because you are honestly not going to be able to understand how easy and how compelling it is in this console game setting. The machine is focused on gaming, so it’s even more appealing to people to download these smaller games on the 360 than it is on their PC.

I’m also very curious about the effect of word-of-mouth on sales of Marketplace games on Live, because I know I’ve seen it in effect on the original Xbox. People talk about other games when they’re waiting in a lobby, or during downtime between matches, and I know one of the more frequent types of conversations I’ve heard is:

“Yeah, I’ve also been playing a lot of XYZ lately…”
“How is that?”
“I like it a lot, because of ABC.”
“Hmm…I think I might pick that up.”

When the games in question are just a few button presses away, instead of a trip-to-the-store away, I can easily imagine a lot more impulse purchases being made. The lower price point also definitely helps.

But dave, what about the EB store workers? And how can these games be popular, your putting the boxes in your living room is where people learn about games… and can you sell these games on ebay, because we know used game sales drive new game sales…

Oops… yeah… just kidding Dave. Don’t worry about it.

Welcome aboard the digital download future you have been fighting against for so long. We people who have been enjoying it for years already know what you are talking about.


Fuck Steam.

Thanks for the insight, I always like to see steam detractors using all of their wit and logic to support their argument. But Dave has hardly held his hatred of downloads just to steam.


I just thought it fit in a meta sort of way, so maybe not very funny, but I didn’t mean it specifically enough to get anyone defensive about it again.

Well considering when I mentioned in the EA/BF2 thread I was all for EA’s download and happy to get the expansion that way - Dave attacked me for… not sure, supporting the competition? maybe dave can answer that question as well…

So it gets a little old, but fair enough. I just hate to see a discussion about downloads on the xbox, turn to be about steam. Because Dave has been such a download hater, I really am curious to why he thinks this is different now (past that the download happens to a console).


Ah, I wasn’t aware the debate was still raging in other threads, I’d skipped that one, not having BF2 myself.

If you can’t see the difference between selling a $50 product on an open platform inside a closed system that’s purposely designed to limit the user’s rights, and a basically throw away purchase of $10 or less on a closed platform, then I can’t help you Chet.

I’m willing to pay for one. I’m not willing to pay for the other.

I’m also done with you. Thanks for installing the new vBulletin software. plonk

Whoa, just had a USENET flashback there.

Dave… um wow. Sorry I asked you to defend your points. CRAZY!!!

You have publicly stated the following:
Used games drive new games sales.
Electronic downloads are ultimately bad because they take away jobs from eb clerks.
You have complained about selling of used games, you can sell your copy of CD2, you can’t the xbox live download.
The purchase prices of some current digital downloads are low, but… huh?
You have claimed some of the most important advertising a game can have is the boxes displayed in living rooms across the world (white trash world maybe).

Do you mean to tell me dave, you are not honestly able to defend one of your previous claims? Those claims cross-over to here, but instead of being able to defend them, you are going to run? You have never once made a logical argument about one of your points, and you continue the history here.


I won’t talk to you chet, because you don’t listen. You twist every single word into something it’s not. It’s not worth my time.

I’ll be curious to see how the marketplace dynamics play out once we get past 1) the hardcore early adopter population, 2) the free points people get for signing up for Live Gold, and 3) as others have mentioned, the dearth of product at launch.

I’d like to see the marketplace become another distribution channel for small developers, but there are still hurdles to overcome: building/testing for console rather than PC, going through MS certification processes (sometimes difficult even for established developers with relationships with MS), getting people to spend new money rather than cashing in “free” points, etc.

There’s certainly potential there, but I’m not sure the numbers aren’t being flexed by current conditions.

But, that’s just my take.


The only thing that annoys me a bit about what might happen if electronic game downloads really takes off is that while average game prices may drop $5-$10, I think gamers who hunt around for the best deals (me) will get burned because there will be little incentive for electronic distrbuters to have sales on a game if they know that they’re the only distributers around.

I mean, the price of HL2 over steam stayed steady for a long, long time before it dropped down to $40 while any other game sold in a store like Target or Gamestop would’ve had at least temporary sale on within it’s first two months on sale.

This is the specific reason that a $10 to $20 price cannot be exceeded with these smaller downloadable games. Even the points equivalent of $20 is probably too much. It has to be an impulse buy at something like $5 to $10 to make it viable on any kind of reasonable scale.

Who got free points? I don’t think they were giving any away, even to new Live subscribers. Got a link for that?