While Trials Evolution does in fact evolve the Trials franchise in new and interesting directions, it also managed to evolve the entire Xbox Live Arcade service. Trials Evolution is the first game of its kind to increase the Gamerscore total from 200 to 400 achievement points, which is now the new standard for XBLA games. Looking at the trajectory of the XBLA service and how the scope of the games have increased over time (along with their price) it’s no wonder why they upped the overall points possible.
Think back to 2005 when the 360 first launched, it was actual arcade games like Gauntlet and Smash TV that were being released on the service. Microsoft even had a 50 megabyte size limit in place for all of its downloadable arcade releases to accommodate those who only managed to have a 64MB memory card. 200 achievement points seemed just right to support those smaller experiences.
It wasn’t until 2007 with the release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that an XBLA game managed to exceed its 50MB limit to a whopping 95.32MB. Though this was just an exception to the rule it proved to be a slippery slope. The size limit was officially raised to 150MB shortly there after, and due to consumer demand and pressure from developers it has only kept increasing.
Nowadays a 2GB maximum size limit is the standard for all XBLA games. With larger game experiences like Shadow Complex and Trine 2 now the norm on the service, with actual arcade games taking a backseat, this comes as no surprise. However the Gamerscore total maintained its 200 point limit, which seemed all the more ridiculous when you realized you got the same amount of points for playing Pac-Man as you did Shadow Complex.
Going forward at 400 points, each XBLA game is more in line with what these downloadable experiences tend to offer in terms of overall content.
Looking to the future it isn’t hard to see other increases for XBLA games in the future, though these may not be the kinds of increases gamers were hoping for. The XBLA version of Minecraft is set to cost a full 1600 Microsoft Points (or $20) when it releases on May 9th, the first XBLA game to do so. 1200 points has quickly become the standard price for XBLA games these past few years, and it isn’t hard to see 1600 Microsoft Points becoming the norm soon enough. Rock Band Blitz is coming out later this summer and no price has been announced thus far. However I would be legitimately surprised if it released at anything less than 1600 Microsoft Points based on the amount of content you’re getting.
This sort of thing was inevitable though, and with how much larger these XBLA experiences are becoming I find this increase in price totally justified. We’re not buying games like Galaga anymore, nor are we limited by a anemic 50 MB size limit. The next Xbox will surely increase the size limit of its XBLA games even further, and hopefully the price of those games won’t exceed 1600 Microsoft Points.
As long as the next wave of XBLA games continue to impress players with their scope, $20 seems perfectly reasonable. The XBLA service was meant for so much more than simple ports of old arcade coin-ops, and just thinking about the future possibilities excites me.
…So yeah, basically what I’m saying is it’s about time for Shadow Complex 2. C’mon ChAIR! Take my money!