We were setting up the XBox 360 at the new office this weekend (will post later on the significant pain involved in linking it to Media Center) and I remembered that the new Full Auto demo had been posted to XBox Live Marketplace. Within 15 minutes we had downloaded the 650MB file to the XBox and there was immediately a lot of yelling going on since the game is a huge amount of fun to play! Based on the demo, it's definitely on our purchase list for Feb 15 when the full game ships - see Sega description
So why is this important - PC users have been downloading PC demos for a long time, and even Xbox or PS2 users could get demos off of disks distributed through magazines and other outlets. The Full Auto experience was important because it was SO EASY. The XBox Marketplace makes it comparatively simple to download movie trailers, game demos, and eventually, a host of game add-ons, new levels, etc. (although it doesn't allow you to do anything else while downloading files - see earlier post) This functionality has been discussed for years, but has been too hard to implement in consoles without broadband functionality, hard drives and a robust online interface - today's simple great game demo download pointed the way for me on Xbox since the initial content I reviewed in late November wasn't very compelling, outside of a couple of fun Live Arcade games.
The general consensus is that Sony is not as committed to online functionality as Microsoft is, and may not even have a built-in hard drive in order to reduce costs stemming from the choice to include a Blu Ray drive and more powerful processor. I'm not sure Sony needs to have as robust a system as Xbox Live, but to ship PS3 without a reasonable online game matching system, basic community functionality and the ability to download extra game content would be a serious error. This current generation of console users is accustomed to the benefits of online communication and file transfers - simply having a faster processor and cool DVD won't be enough over the course of a console cycle. And as we've seen with Kart Racer in Korea and host of other RMT (as detailed here in Wikipedia) games in Asia, the potential revenue from selling add-on items is going to be quite large, at least in Asia and probably around the world.