The release of Lumines Live on the Xbox Live Marketplace last week stirred up a storm of negative reaction regarding the content available in the game, the pricing, and the need for additional content packs for full enjoyment of the software. This disappointment was echoed by Playfeed’s own experiences with the game. 1up follows up on the controversy, and talks with Microsoft’s Greg Canessa, the group manager for Xbox Live Arcade, to try and sort through the issues with the title, Xbox Live Arcade, and microtransactions in general. The short version of the interview: Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace is a great service, and all the problems are the fault of game developers.
Canessa states that Microsoft issues guidance on the three pricing points for Xbox Live Arcade titles, whether that is 400, 800, or 1200 points. While Canessa didn’t want to specifically discuss EA’s penchant to charge from everything from tutorials to cheat codes, he did claim that providing microtransactions were all about providing choice; Canessa believes that charging for additional content means that gamers that don’t want the content will essentially be paying less for their software. While it is true that gamer’s no longer have to pay for content they don’t want, gamers are already paying a premium for Xbox 360 titles over their previous generation counterparts, and are now being forced to pay extra for content that was formerly free.
Regarding Lumines Live, Canessa basically throws Q Entertainment under the bus. At first he claims that there is nothing wrong with the presentation of Lumines Live on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Then, when confronted with the messaging in the game, he claims this is solely the responsibility of Q Entertainment. Microsoft at this point claims to only be the platform provider, and holds no other responsibility.
As gatekeepers for the platform, the company needs to own up to the user experience that they and their partners provide. Microsoft’s approval process for boxed games at retail already seems to be broken, given the number of basic issues that have required patches to the consumer. Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade should be even more controlled, but apparently is not. From poor user experiences with Xbox Live gameplay in titles to the latest Lumines debacle, Microsoft needs to step up and act as an advocate for the gamer.
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Lumines Live hit Xbox Live Arcade yesterday, and is easily one of the most anticipated games to hit Microsoft’s game service. Up until now, DOOM was at the top of the charts as the biggest rip off ($15 for a years-old game), but that title is now squarely on the shoulders of this puzzler from Q! Entertainment. At least with DOOM, the game was there in its entirety.
Despite ringing in at half again the cost of most other Xbox Live Arcade titles (1200 points, or $15), Lumines is not a complete game. Within an hour, I was bumping into messages telling me that I needed to purchase additional content (which is not yet available, incidentally). Outpost Kaloki X offers far more gameplay at half the price. Coupled with frustratingly imprecise controls, and an experience that isn’t as portable as it is on the PSP, I’m instantly regretting having hoarded points for this game.