It's commonplace for game companies to make gamers' saved-game files oddly incompatible with things they seemingly should be compatible with. So the news Microsoft had for Kotaku today about saved-game cross-compatibility is a progressive step.
On August 11, gamers will be able to download full Xbox 360 games to their console using the new Xbox Live Games on Demand service. At least 30 titles will be available at launch, including some you already own.
A spokesperson for Xbox 360 told Kotaku today that existing save-game files for those games will be compatible with any copies of the games you download from the service. Have a Mass Effect save but you long ago sold Mass Effect back to GameStop or accidentally ran the disc over with your lawnmower? The save file will work with the version of the game you can purchase for download.
It may seem like an obvious feature, but it is was not a given. Save files for Burnout Paradise, the first disc-based game of this hardware generation that was later released as a full console download (on the PlayStation 3) were not compatible. Saves from the disc game did not work with saves from the digital game. The upcoming bundling of the Metroid Prime trilogy for Wii, which includes Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii, won't be able to read save-game files from the original Wii release of Corruption, according to what a Nintendo rep told Kotaku a couple of months ago.
Microsoft is making things easier for gamers on this front. Ditch your discs and re-buy the games if you feel like it. Your saved game progress is safe and still relevant.