The size limit for games distributed using Microsoft's popular Xbox Live Arcade service is to be tripled to 150MB, effective immediately - with the firm launching a new 512MB memory unit for the Xbox 360 to allow Core System owners to take advantage of the new games.
Previously, all software distributed on Xbox Live Arcade had to fit inside a 50MB file - which also meant that all software was compatible with the Xbox 360 Core System, which uses 64MB memory cards for data storage rather than the much larger hard drive in the "full" Xbox 360 system. However, Microsoft has made exceptions to that rule - notably for Konami's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which it admitted at the start of this year would not fit inside 50MB.
Now developers will be free to develop games up to a size limit of 150MB - a size which hits a sweet spot between giving flexibility to developers and maintaining accessibility for consumers, according to Xbox Live Arcade product manager Chris Early.
"The new size limit offers developers increased flexibility and continued opportunities for innovative game development, while also ensuring that the millions of gamers on Xbox LIVE can continue to easily access, download and play all Xbox LIVE Arcade games on Xbox 360," Early explained in a statement on the size limit changes.
"If you take a look at current games like 'Roboblitz' and 'Small Arms,' it's clear that our developers deliver amazing game experiences within a compact size limit," he continued. "Our focus is on continuing to provide developers with an environment that allows for the creation of cost-efficient games and that nurtures an artistic and creative approach to game development."
The 512MB memory unit for the Xbox 360 will launch on April 3rd, and is expected to retail at $49.99 in North America when it launches - with the existing 64MB memory unit set to drop in price from $39.99 to $29.99 at the same time. For a limited period, each 512MB unit sold will also come with a full copy of popular Xbox Live Arcade title Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved.
The announcements concerning the size limit change and the launch of the new memory unit came ahead of Microsoft's planned Xbox Live Arcade showcase at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, where the firm plans to show off a range of Xbox Live Arcade titles including Boom Boom Rocket (EA / Bizarre Creations), 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures (Sierra Online / Wanako Games), Eets: Chowdown (Klei Entertainment), Jetpac Refuelled (Rare) and Pinball FX (ZEN Studios).