Xbox Live Arcade
Launched in the latter part of 2005 to coincide with the new Xbox 360 console and the revamped Xbox Live service, Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) was the first step for consoles into the domain of the digital arcade.
Making use of the 360’s Hard Disk Drive attachment, and their ADSL Internet connection, users are able to download games straight to their console through the 360’s dashboard interface. Arcade titles even incorporate the popular Achievements system, adding Gamerscore Points based on achieving set criteria within the games.
Instead of using conventional pricing, users purchase items in Microsoft Points. These can either be bought through the Live service or by inputting the codes from cards available from retailers. To help you work out how much purchases cost in actual money see Steve Hunters handy Unofficial MS Points Convertor
The XBLA has grown to cater for everyone, no matter what their taste with a range including shooters, puzzle games and RPG’s. Games are also a mixture of old and new with classic retro titles from PS2, Dreamcast and traditional Arcades, remakes of popular handheld titles and even all new original franchises.
The Arcade is usually updated every Wednesday.
Xbox Live Indie Games
A spin off from the Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft Indie Games launched in November 2008 with the name of `Community Games`. These titles are user generated games, developed using Microsofts XNA Game Studio Development tool. This simplifies games development on the Xbox system and makes it easy for people to create basic games and then share them via the Xbox Marketplace. The `Community Games` name was rebranded in 2009 to Xbox Live Indie Games.
Because of the restrictions placed on the size of titles and various other limits of the XNA tools, Indie Games tend to be a lot more simplistic and restricted than their bigger XBLA cousins. Microsoft recognises this and allows creators to charge a smaller sum for their titles – currently this is 400, 240 or 80 Microsoft Points.
Unlike Xbox Live Arcade Games, Indie Games do not have a release schedule are and put on the Marketplace for download once the user has submitted then and they have passed the more simplistic certification process.