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Xbox Live Arcade boss promotes service success

Speaking at the Hollywood and Games Summit in Beverly Hills, Microsoft executive Greg Canessa has discussed the evolution of the Xbox Live Arcade service as a tool for the creation of a new market for digitally distributed games.

Xbox Live Arcade boss Greg Canessa has reaffirmed Microsoft's commitment to promoting online distribution as games get more expensive to produce and traditional genres begin to disappear.

Speaking at the Hollywood and Games Summit, Canessa said that Microsoft's executives "are big believes in online distribution", highlighting the success of Xbox Live Arcade.

According to Canessa, XBL was at least in part developed because "Games are getting more expensive to produce... And the great game genres are disappearing."

With Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft hopes to create a brand new market for games, covering all genres - there are already 21 titles available via the service, and nearly 400 developers and publishers have signed up to produce games. Canessa described XBLA as "The Sundance Film Festival of Games."

Xbox Live Arcade, which launched alongside the Xbox 360 last year, allows consumers to download and play games such as Uno and Zuma at low cost. Bizarre Creations' Geometry Wars has proved to be one of the most popular titles - by January, more than 200,000 trial downloads and 45,000 purchases had been recorded. Canessa did not reveal what the download figure stands at now, but did say: "It's well into the six figures."

Canessa then turned to the subject of episodic content, which Microsoft plans to release for games such as Grand Theft Auto IV. According to Canessa, episodic content is the "natural evolution of digital distribution."

Microsoft has repeatedly confirmed its commitment to the digital distribution model, and the success of Xbox Live Marketplace appears to have strengthened that commitment. However, it's also clear that the company still believes in the importance of traditional retail channels - it's rumoured that a compendium of Live Arcade games, aimed at consumers who don't have online access, is currently being put together for a retail release.

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Paul Loughrey

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