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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Retro Meets High Tech on Xbox 360 - Part 1

Retro Meets High Tech on Xbox 360 - Part 1

"Mix one part classic retro titles, with one part fresh & original content, and combine that with next-gen hardware and a tightly managed online network, and you get Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360. Live Arcade has come a long way since its inception. We speak with Greg Canessa (left), Group Manager of the Xbox Live Arcade business, about the company's Arcade strategy.

GameDAILY BIZ: Since the released list of Xbox Live Arcade developers, many gamers have been quick to list classic titles that they'd like to see revived on Arcade. Will these developers be focusing more on new software or classic titles?

Greg Canessa: It's going to be both actually. At launch we're going to have a nice mix of the retro coin-op, classic stuff and titles that maybe have existed on other platforms and have been upgraded for 360, and completely new and original content. So we really have a nice offering, and you're going to actually see that on Xbox Live Arcade going forward. That's really the vision for Arcade, to have that central destination for small, downloadable games of all types in your Xbox 360 dash. We consider both [types of games] to be huge opportunities; and since retro coin-op games are small, downloadable games, they fit, as well as originally developed content from smaller developers and larger publishers.

With regard to the coin-op opportunity specifically you see that we have relationships we announced with every major IP owner of all retro coin-op stuff, so you've got Capcom, Konami, Sega, Namco, Midway, Atari -- they're all there. At launch we announced four titles from Midway. We're going to have Joust, Robotron, Gauntlet and SmashTV all there at launch. And what we're trying to do with the retro coin-op games is we're trying to take them a half step further. We're trying to innovate even on the retro coin-op stuff, give it a nice twist and provide a lot of extra value for the 360 customer, especially since we are on 360 and have these awesome online capabilities.

So what we've done is two quick things to those games. The first thing we did is we actually tweaked the graphics a little bit; we "up-resed" them for high definition. So it's pretty cool in a minor way. If you look at Joust, the little guys are "up-resed" a little bit so they're not blocky, the little jousters. And if you don't want that, you want total old-school and you're a purist, you can actually turn that off in the options menu in real-time and go back to the original graphics. We also actually added a little bit of a hi-res background behind Joust and we've done the same thing with a lot of the different coin-op games.

The second thing we've done and the really cool innovation is—and this has been kind of under publicized... and I think the gamers will be pretty happy when they download it—we've cracked the original ROM code for all these games. And for the first time in 20-25 years in the history of these games, we've added full Xbox Live multiplayer support. So you're going to be able to play Joust or Gauntlet, which is awesome 4-way over Live in real-time with a headset.

"They [indie devs] can create niche products and the economics just work because... they don't have to deal with all that overhead..." - Greg Canessa on attracting independent developers to Live Arcade

BIZ: That was actually one of my questions, if games like Gauntlet supported 4-player online and apparently the answer is, yes.

GC: Absolutely! And let me tell you it is a freakin' blast! When you get your hands on it, old-school Gauntlet playing with your buddies over Live just kicks ass. I'm a total old-school fan." [more]

Related Link:
Retro Meets High Tech on Xbox 360 - Part 2

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