Starting next week there will be a new way — a third way — for Xbox 360 users to browse the 250-some Xbox Live Arcade games offered through Microsoft's console. No, the first two methods weren't good enough.
Xbox Live Arcade on the Xbox 360 launched in the fall of 2005, with Geometry Wars Retro Evolved leading the pack of arcade-style games that cost five or 10 bucks. The high volume of weekly XBLA releases caused a problem: cluttered content. Enter the 2008 "New Xbox Experience" with its streamlined interface and, well, not a streamlined enough one to efficiently display 250-or-so XBLA games.
That brings us to attempt #3: Destination Arcade. Next week, Microsoft will launch an app that Xbox 360 users can download to their console and use to sort through XBLA games better.
"It was starting to get cumbersome," Microsoft producer Justin Robey told Kotaku today. "Destination Arcade is an a opportunity to find games better instead of having to browse through a big list."
The Destination Arcade is designed to offer some of the things shoppers of physical, disc-based games enjoy, such as the ability for you to, in Robey's words, "look at games your friends have played" or "have that guy behind the counter who can say what games are like the ones you like."
The way this works is through the better filtering options in Destination Arcade and an extra content-rating system. Users of Destination Arcade will be able to sort games by developer, rating or price, and also check a tab for a list of the games that are on sale. They'll also be able to "like" games similarly to the way you can thumbs-up something on Facebook. Destination Arcade will keep track of those likes and let you see a display of which games your friends like the most. Another piece of the app will look at which games you like and find ones that are similar and worth recommending.
Microsoft has an impressive Summer of Arcade roster of games coming later this season and surely doesn't want you having any trouble finding the good stuff. In a race to keep up with the best parts of the Steam store or Amazon, Microsoft's Xbox 360 store for XBLA is getting better. It took them three tries, but if it works, why not?