Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn00Hdbjttk
Even More Early Xbox Live Arcade Info - Your Comments & Game Demo Disc
Original Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODVeV8Li0p8
Some more information has come to light off the back of my original Xbox Live Arcade documentary, and I’ve also found and preserved a later DVD release containing 12 game demos!
Hey! So, I’m currently in the midst of working on my next video, which is all about this Atari PC and the story of how Atari came to be in the PC market in the 1980s.
So I don’t really want to spend too much time away from that because that’s going to be out quite soon, and I’m kind of in full flow with that one.
But just hot off the back of my Xbox Live Arcade history video - and if you haven’t seen that, that just went out on my channel - and it basically deals with the history of Xbox Live Arcade.
That’s the download service on the Xbox console: specifically the very early history of that, how it came to be, how it was pitched to the Microsoft executives and how it very nearly didn’t happen, and obviously how it was announced, and I also went through and looked at all of the games that were released on that service and just gave them kind of a very quick review.
Some really interesting games on there - some of the first appearances of some quite well-known titles, and also a few games that didn’t make it onto other services, so it’s quite an interesting look at that.
But I got some comments on that video - I got some feedback from some people - and I wanted to put that information out there, because it’s quite an important part of the story and it’s not something that I deliberately overlooked, there’s just not a lot of information out there on Xbox Live Arcade.
This quite often happens with videos - I’ll put something out and then I’ll get a load of responses from people with information that I wish I’d known upfront - but unfortunately that’s just how it works.
So, the first person that contacted me goes by the name of “Completely Unnecessary Upgrades”, and basically pointed out that there is a DVD version with 12 demos on it - which I’d kind of already come across - and actually I wrote an early version of the script which talked about a DVD version that had game demos on it.
Then when the version that I showed in the video actually arrived I was quite surprised to see that the only game on there was Ms. Pac-Man - which was the full version - so I went off and did a bit more research, and then it turned out that that was actually the original release, and that it was the later releases that actually had the game demos on the disc.
Now, as it happens there was an Xbox Live Starter Pack that came up for sale on eBay after that video went out, and I bought it in the hopes that it would come with - it mentioned that it came with an Xbox Live Arcade disc - in the hope that it would come with one of those discs, and as it happens it did!
So I now have the Xbox Live Arcade - it’s called “The Game Demo Disc” - and it has 12 demos on it. It doesn’t have the full version of Ms. Pac-Man, which is quite interesting - it doesn’t even have a demo version. So what I’ve done with this - as per the original CD in that previous video - I’ve scanned the sleeve in and scanned the disc, and also dumped it. I’ve dumped all the files on the disc and also taken an ISO dump of it and I’ve uploaded all of that stuff to archive.org for preservation purposes, so anyone in the future wanting to tackle this subject finds it a little bit easier than I did, and I think it’s important to preserve this stuff, particularly this optical media that won’t be around forever.
So that’s now preserved - so that’s very cool - and I was just going through this on my OG Xbox.
The menu system is all exactly the same as the version that I showed in that video. There’s a couple of interesting bits and pieces:
Basically the demos all run from the disc itself rather than being installed to the hard disk as they would have been if they were downloaded from Xbox Live Arcade, and also after you run each demo there’s what would have been known in in the world of DOS gaming I guess as a “nag screen” at the end, which is basically “thanks for playing the demo, if you’d like to upgrade to the full version you can do that on Xbox Live Arcade now”.
So thank you very much for that information, Completely Unnecessary Upgrades - that’s really useful, and I just wanted to put that out there.
They also mentioned that there was a price list - which they sent me a link to on Twitter.
Now, in that video I mentioned that the only information I could find on pricing was from an old CNN article that mentioned that the games were going to be priced at $10 to $20, and actually on the whole that is true.
So the link that I was sent - which of course I will also link down in the description - was on digiex.net, which was actually a forum that I’d come across in my research, and actually I’d already found some useful information on there so I’m not quite sure how I managed to overlook that price list.
It’s from 2008ish I think, and so I’m not sure if these were launch prices or if these were kind of the final prices.
Obviously 2008 was quite late on in the original Xbox Live Arcade’s lifetime - I think they’d released all of the games that they were going to release by that point.
So I’ll just go through the prices - they are somewhat on the high side - generally $9.99 for most things including stuff like Alien Sky and Atomaders and Bookworm - some of those more simple games that I wasn’t particularly impressed with when I looked at those.
Some interesting standout ones - obviously Bejeweled is $14.99, I think that’s probably quite expensive for what is just essentially quite a basic puzzle game.
I think the thing that surprised me the most about this list was that those Digital Eclipse ports of Joust and Gauntlet, Robotron, Smash TV - the ones that I was really impressed with - updated graphics and online features and leaderboards and just some really nice touches on those old arcade classics - they’re only $4.99 each, which is about what I would expect for some of these smaller games, and I think that’s actually a very reasonable price for what they are, so quite interesting to see them.
Of course Zuma - my favourite game! I mentioned it was my favourite game back in the day - that’s also one of the higher priced ones at $14.99 along with the Namco Vintage Collection, which obviously included three older arcade games, so they’re about five dollars each - so not all that unreasonable.
The other thing about that page on Digiex is that there’s a list of 360 games with the pricing for those - now of course Microsoft had moved to its Microsoft Points system by that point, so there’s not really a direct correlation between the points value and the dollar value of the actual games.
From what I remember, I think it actually worked out so 500 points was actually about $5 or £5 or whatever, and there’s quite a few games on that list that were 300 or 400 points, which I think is a lot more reasonable.
So I think the games generally were slightly lower priced on the 360.
But, as I mentioned in that first video, I do want to cover the 360 side of things at some point - that is a console that I also owned and also played a lot of Xbox Live Arcade on, so I think that’s worth mentioning and something I will be covering as well in a future update.
So thanks once again for sending that information across - that’s really useful.
I also wanted to point out a couple of comments from EvanBlax - and I have replied to this person and not had a reply back so sorry if you haven’t seen those or whatever - but Evan seems quite knowledgeable on the Xbox Live side of things.
I’m not sure if he’s involved in the development of Insignia maybe, just because of a piece of Insider information in one of those comments.
I went through and I looked at those games, as I mentioned, and I came across a lock-up at the end of every level in Marble Blast which is one of the better games that I really enjoyed, so it was a bit of a shame, and I thought that the copy of the game that I had was corrupted in some way.
Actually, after I made the video I went out and downloaded a few different versions that I could find on the internet and tried manually copying them across onto my Xbox, and it turned out that they were actually identical in the end anyway and all had this exact same bug.
But as Evan has pointed out, it turns out that this was actually a bug in the latest version of Insignia due to the leaderboards.
So, of course when you get to the end of a level the game tries to contact Xbox Live and update your score on the leaderboard, and of course if that’s broken the game’s just going to hang if it doesn’t get the right response back or whatever.
So it turns out that that’s actually a bug in Insignia, and that’s something that they know about and something that they are working on - so hopefully that will be sorted very soon and I’ll be able to enjoy Marble Blast.
He also pointed out a mistake that I made in the video - and I don’t like to hide away from my mistakes, I like to think that they don’t happen very often - but basically, there was a very short bit to camera where I just explained that the reason that Microsoft had released this on disc rather than as an online update was because of disk space issues with the system partition on the Xbox, and he pointed out that that’s not actually true and that nobody really knows why they made that decision.
They probably just didn’t have the will to do it internally - I imagine that they knew that the 360 was coming along and they were focusing all their efforts on the dashboard for that, and obviously integrating all the online service and stuff with that dashboard rather than wanting to spend too much time on the old OG Xbox.
So I actually used the editor that YouTube gives us in the back end, and just removed that section of the video.
It was a very short section - it was like 20 seconds, literally just kind of an offhand comment - but that was just something that I’d read online in a few different places and I guess it was just speculation and it turns out it wasn’t true.
So I’ll take Evan’s word for it on that - and if it’s not true then I won’t include it in the video.
So thank you very much for the corrections.
So that’s all - I just wanted to put out a very quick update. I’m going to get on with the next video now, but hopefully that information is useful to someone, and of course I will link down below the original Xbox Live Arcade disc that I ripped and put on archive.org and also the link to download this updated demo disc with the 12 demos on it.
So if you haven’t seen that original video and somehow you’ve made it this far, I will put a link to that as well, but that’s all I’ve got for now so thank you very much.
Original Video Links
Archive.org Download (Original US CD Release): https://archive.org/details/xbox-live-arcade-2004-iso-untouched-dvd2xbox
Archive.org Download (EU “Game Demo Disc” DVD Release): https://archive.org/details/xbox-live-arcade-2005-game-demo-disc-iso-untouched-dvd2xbox
Digiex.net Price List: https://digiex.net/threads/list-of-xbox-live-arcade-games-and-cost.408/
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