Saturday, April 18, 2009

XBLA meet You got your peanut butter in my steak

Eventually there will be a better way of surfacing great XBLA content to prospective buyers. Selling Arcade titles on is a step in the right direction in terms of infrastructure (Amazon has a great system of reviews, ratings, and recs), but not in terms of user task flow so the match is not perfect.

I waited a couple of weeks to post this article because I wanted to give Amazon customers a chance to add enough customer input to make ratings and reviews data useful. But, even though thousands of units of the most popular games have sold over the past two weeks there are only a handful of ratings and reviews.


User task flow. When are users most likely to give accurate star ratings and reviews? Immediately after playing the game. It still amazes me that XBLA (and, for that matter, Steam) still do not make it easy for players to rate and review content while within the service playing a game. Players are much less likely to rate and review content when they are on the website in "purchase mode".

Of course, this innovation is more about making a Gifting purchase pipeline (something that Steam has already -- I've talked about its weaknesses in another post). This leads me to wonder why, in the day of unique Gamertag identifiers, we need to purchase codes that we then enter in the dash via console controller [NOTE: it looks like you can also enter purchase codes via keyboard at]? It seems to me like you would just include a Gamertag picker during the purchase pipeline (there could be a validation screen that displayed the gift recipient's profile information). The purchaser could type in the name and store it in his/her address book. Then the next time the gift recipient logs in to XBLA he/she receives a gift notification.

Moreover, from a purchase pipeline perspective, this whole exercise would be easier to accomplish within the dash, anyhow. Simply add a "Buy as gift" option for all purchasable content. Of course this would only work when both giver and receiver are both XBox Live members.

The true brilliance (in my mind) of having an external-to-XBLA purchase pipeline is to enable non-gamers (e.g., parents, non-gaming spouses, etc) to buy gifts for their loved ones who do like to play games.

Imagine a world where:
  • I could add premium content I wanted to my wishlist from the Xbox dash and with a few clicks my fiancee could purchase these items for me on the website and they'd automagically download and unlock on my Xbox.
  • XBLA customers could rate, review, and tag (in a Little Big Planet console friendly way) game play content on the Xbox and these ratings would appear on so that purchasers not familiar with these games could use these ratings and recs (combined with gift recipient purchase data) to make purchasing decisions.
I have to believe that this kind of convergence is in the works.

If not... Why not?

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