New 360 web service to make Marketplace content sale easier for developers and publishers

Microsoft looks to bridge the gap between XBLA and PCs

360 owners will soon be able to buy, via their web browser, Marketplace content which is automatically downloaded to their home console, while developers will be able use direct link iTunes-like URLs that let them virally promote their Xbox Live Arcade creations – all as part of new features designed to spur further use of Microsoft’s online content sales.

Broad details about Microsoft’s further plans for its new Xbox 360 dashboard were relayed to developers at the UK Gamefest event in London last week, Develop understands.

One session about Marketplace sales and content explained that Microsoft is readying a web-based interface to the online store (which sells DLC, Xbox Live Arcade Games, and also movies) that is currently only accessible via the console interface.

Via the new storefront users will be able to browse available Xbox 360 content from their computer – either at home or work – which will be then be ‘sent’ to their console as a download. (Presumably, the system requires the console to be in a sleep mode and utilises the on-board download manager to work.)

Microsoft announced it was to launch a Games for Windows Marketplace at the US Gamefest three weeks ago – but it’s not yet clear if it will incorporate the new web-based storefront to the 360 Marketplace.

The 360 Marketplace has, by Microsoft’s own reckoning, been booming in the past few months. The service has had 12 million users in over 26 countries and a total of $240 million in transactions revenue so far.

$180 million of that was bought in the last 12 months, driven by premium downloadable content for the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band and XBLA game sales.

At the same time, with the Marketplace having a web-based counterpart, Microsoft told assembled developers that it will be possible for them to virally promote their games via links on the web. The same features are also expected to be available to indie developers using the XNA Creators Club channel when that launches with the new Xbox 360 dashboard update later this year.

So URLs for each piece of content available will create links that directly push consumers towards the product page for each game or piece of downloadable content – and, get them one step closer to clicking ‘buy’ and paying for the content.

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