Average price of XBLA games increasing

MS is "gratified" people are willing to pay.

The average price of an Xbox Live Arcade game has crept up in recent years, Microsoft has admitted.

XBLA portfolio director Chris Charla told GamesIndustry.biz that its digital releases are bucking the App Store trend for ever cheaper experiences.

"If you look at Live Arcade, and do the math, and look at the publicly available sales numbers, you can see that average prices on XBLA have crept up over the last few years, which has been an interesting trend because on some app markets there's been a race to zero as fast as possible," he said.

"We've seen a little bit of the opposite happening. I don't really know where prices are going to go - ultimately, that's set by the market - but it has been really gratifying to see that people are willing to pay a premium price for digital content."

In 2009, 21 of the 86 games released cost 1200 Microsoft Points. That rose to 27 out of 85 in 2010, whereas 20 games have already been confirmed for a 1200 points release in 2011, with plenty more due out before the end of the year.

Charla added that a rise in price is being offset by a rise in quality, with the average Metacritic score for an XBLA game climbing 12 points since the start of 2008.

"Sometimes, when [developers] talk about Live Arcade they're like, 'We want to do a boxed quality game on Live Arcade', and I'm like, 'What does that mean?' I can point at a bunch of 38 and 42 and 56 metacritic scoring boxed games, so it actually kind of pisses me off.

"I think the games that we're shipping - a Limbo or a Castle Crashers - are as good as anything on the market."

XBLA is currently in the midst of its annual Summer of Arcade games rush. Ace action RPG Bastion dropped this week, with From Dust, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Fruit Ninja Kinect and Toy Soldiers: Cold War still to come.

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