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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

An iTunes For Games

But online, shelf space is infinite and inventory risk is zero. So gamers will be able to pick and choose not just from a retail store's limited, hit-centric selection, but from a wide range of obscure classics and experimental new designs.

At least, they should be able to. But in reality, and quite ironically, the number of full-blown, disc-based games on retail shelves dwarfs the online offerings for two of the consoles. Microsoft's Xbox 360 has amassed a library of more than 160 game discs since its November 2005 launch, but only 45 downloadable titles are on the Xbox Live Arcade service. On the PlayStation 3, there are 21 games on Blu-ray disc, but only eight in Sony's online store.

Only on Nintendo's Wii does the downloadable catalog outnumber the retail one: 56 to 35. The company's secret: recycling.
-- An ITunes for Games? Not Yet

Recycling should be Sony's trick as well ... they theoretically could leverage the largest library out of anyone (depending on licenses and probably a hundred other legal loopholes, of course). Aside from games, they surely have more media to throw at consumers than anyone else on the planet consdering their movie and music assets.

While pouring out old games for simplicity and nostalgia is fine, I don't think it's a solid enough idea alone. To riff off the rant about XNA, Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo need to concentrate on new content ... and I would say the community around this new content as well. There's a chance here to rekindle the kind of synergy that once took place between innovative developers and players willing to try untested and unfinished games ... something that once existed for PC's but now is essentially lost.

I think it's interesting that Kohler uses iTunes as the titular example - since I've been saying since Apple announced iPod games that iTunes could in fact serve this purpose as well.

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