This week there’s a singular non-Arcade release on the Xbox One, and it’s Peggle 2.
Err wait. This isn’t the Week in Arcade feature. It can’t be as Microsoft chose an “all-in-one” policy for Xbox One. Designations for Arcade, indie, budget, and retail games no longer exist. As such, a long-running feature on MPG dies with the decison.
Microsoft’s choice is astonishingly poor. Xbox Live Arcade rose from a cluttered mash-up of vintage arcade games on the original Xbox to a substantive force on Xbox 360. Last generation’s best games were spearheaded by Microsoft’s digital distribution service. They were played because of a demanding system of demos and pricing margins aided by low entry cost.
With Xbox One, the demos are gone. My interest in Powerstar Golf, a digital $20 exclusive on Xbox One’s marketplace, dwindled to nothing without a demo. XBLA was a place of experimentation. Some say demos fail to add sales (even decrease them). For retail titles, maybe that’s true. In order to understand the unique elements of these Arcade/indie efforts, trials become necessitated. The genius of the Arcade lived and died by forced demos. With rising costs (if Powerstar is an indicator), radical ideas can no longer be sold based on play, but rather menial screen shots or trailers. $20 is suddenly more expensive than it should be.
Peggle 2 is assured. It’s PopCap and it’s Peggle. But, it’s designation is not unique. Peggle 2 is shuffled into the mix with Ryse, Dead Rising 3, and others. There is nothing standout about Peggle 2 if the view of the Marketplace is an indicator. Unless you click through on the store (assuming you found the game at all), you have no reason to assume it’s a bargain at $12.
Games are games, mobile or Facebook or console/PC AAA offerings. However, those designations work wonders for consumer awareness. When you enter an XBLA, there are (or rather, were) expectations. It’s what allowed Shadow Complex to exceed ideas of what can be done in the framework of a digital exclusive. Separation is what allowed RadianGames to dominate the Indie Games service with notable quality.
If these titles bundle together, an average consumer cannot understand what made Shadow Complex unique. Are they purchasing a retail title undergoing a price drop? What is a $1 RadianGame doing in a small square next to AAA retail blockbusters? Say what you will for game equality; it’s an admirable cause which in theory affords all levels of development equal footing – except it doesn’t. Perspective means everything, and without marketable labels, perspective is thin.