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Crap XBLA games to be delisted

Plus: new MS XBLA studio, new DRM tool.

Microsoft is going to start delisting older Xbox Live Arcade titles that have a low Metacritic average and have sold in very small quantities.

That's according to Xbox Live general manager Marc Whitten, who also ruled out a spring dashboard update, and announced a new first-party game studio dedicated to producing original content for Xbox Live Arcade.

"We will be delisting older underperforming titles in order to keep the service focused on a section of high quality games," Whitten told Next-gen.biz.

"The way it will work is that the title will need to be at least 6 months old and have a Metacritic score below 65 and a conversion rate below 6 percent on the service." (In other words, if fewer than 6 percent of people who downloaded the demo have bought it.) "We will also give a three-month notice before delisting any title."

The lack of a spring dashboard update presumably scotches a recent "leaked" list of features. Instead of that, Whitten said we will receive a "new digital rights management tool next month" designed to "consolidate your licences for downloaded content to a single Xbox and allow you the freedom to be able to play your content both online and offline".

At the moment, XBLA and Video Store content downloaded on one Xbox 360 cannot be played on another console unless the gamertag that paid for it is active and logged into Xbox Live. Not too much of a problem if you're just round a friend's house, but a bit of a pain if you've had to replace your console for whatever reason. We've heard this happens.

On the final point, the new XBLA-dedicated development studio, Whitten couldn't say much, other than it exists and "will be focused on high quality digital content creation", with "some big original XBLA games" to be announced soon. E3, perhaps? We shall see.