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July 19, 2006

Using the Live Arcade model for Indie Filmmakers?

Edge Online had a piece on the X360 live arcade service in March, sketching Microsoft's business modell, its implications for independent game design and their outlook for the future. Even though the first XBOX-based live arcade was not quite successful and the concept seemed counterintuitive on a next-gen, graphics-oriented console, the idea of selling indie games (with an average budget of 100.000-500.000$), retro games and casual games (parlor games etc.) was a huge success since its implementation with 14 launch titles early this year.
The facts (as of March 2006) are striking - "many hundred thousand players" which apparently amounts to at least 30% of XBOX owners, an average of 4 1/2 titles per consumer (of 14 titles available at that time) and a conversion rate, i.e. the rate of trial versions upgraded to full versions, of 8.5% vs. 0.8-1% in reatil games.
Since the same titles were easily available before online, the key to this success seems to be preselection from an oversupply of titles, an easy interface, no extra entering of credit card data (which is already stored with the Live Arcade account) and, of course, the brand 'Live Arcade' combined with the MIcrosoft label resulting in a renewed interest by companies to produce 'arcade' game formats.
It would be interesting to think about whether and how this concept might be adaptable to indie video content which is still either available for free online or through file-sharing systems or other tools. The intriguing idea of LIve Arcade is to imbue the immaterial data (be it a game or a video) downloaded from the net with a profile and significance as well as to give it a product form. Content like the increasingly professional fan movies (e.g. Star Wars Revelations or the Lego movies from would lend itself perfectly to this kind of distribution and while free quality content is always a good thing, a royalty-based support model like the Live Arcade might still be able to boost both quantity and (at least technical) quality of independent filmmaking.


Have you seen any evidence that other people have contemplated this question regarding a Live Arcade for independent films? I think it's a strong possibility as a potential model at first glance, but I agree that it would take a lot more teasing out to go. Of course, fan-produced would have to cross a lot of copyright barriers in the process. Copyright owners are a little more critical of fan content for-profit than they are YouTube distributed fan montages or parodies.

Posted by: Sam Ford | July 25, 2006 1:49 AM
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