|Launch date||November 2005 (Xbox 360) |
November 2008 (PC)
November 2013 (Xbox One)
|Discontinued||October 2017 (Xbox One)|
|Operating system(s)||Xbox OS|
|Status||Merged with Microsoft Store (on Xbox One)|
|Website||Xbox 360 Marketplace|
Xbox One Game Store
Xbox Games Store (formerly Xbox Live Marketplace) is a digital distribution platform used by Microsoft's Xbox One and Xbox 360 video game consoles. The service allows users to download or purchase video games (including both Xbox Live Arcade games and full Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles), add-ons for existing games, game demos along with other miscellaneous content such as gamer pictures and Dashboard themes.
The service also previously offered sections for downloading video content, such as films and television episodes; as of late 2012, this functionality was superseded by Xbox Music and Xbox Video (now known as Groove Music and Microsoft Movies & TV respectively).
In late 2017, Xbox Store was replaced on Xbox One by Microsoft Store, as the standard digital storefront for all Windows 10 devices.
Main article: Xbox Live Arcade
The Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) branding encompasses digital-only games that can be purchased from Xbox Games Store on the Xbox 360, including ports of classic games and new original titles.
The Games on Demand section of Xbox Games Store allows users to purchase downloadable versions of Xbox 360 titles, along with games released for the original Xbox. Most of all, some of the delisted downloadable contents of the respective Xbox 360 games are also included in this edition.
Main article: Xbox Live Indie Games
As part of the "New Xbox Experience" update launched on November 19, 2008, Microsoft launched Xbox Live Community Games, and later renamed to "Xbox Live Indie Games", a service similar to Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), with smaller and less expensive games created by independent developers and small studios. Such games are added to the service after successfully passing through a peer review system that prevents inappropriate content from appearing in games and ensures that games meet certain technical standards and do not misrepresent their content.
Initial content partners included Paramount Pictures, CBS, TBS, MTV Networks, UFC, NBC, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Other movie studios have since supported the service including Lionsgate Films and Walt Disney Pictures as announced at E3 2007. At CES 2008, MGM, ABC, the Disney Channel and Toon Disney announced their support for the service.
Various films and TV shows were available for purchase in the Video Store, including both past and present series, such as Star Trek and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Initially, while TV shows could be downloaded and saved, films could only be rented—expiring 24 hours after initial viewing or 14 days after purchase.
At launch, the Video Store encountered widespread problems such as lengthy download times, duplicate billing for the same content, and downloads that could not complete, or for which users would have had to repay to complete.
On March 6, 2007, the South Park episode "Good Times with Weapons" was available for free download; however, this episode was free only for the HDTV version until April 3, 2007. Starting on March 13, 2007, all episodes from South Park's 11th season were offered uncensored. Also, starting on July 26, 2007, the pilot episode of Jericho was available for download free of charge for both the Standard and HD versions.
In late 2009, the Video Marketplace was replaced by the Zune Video Marketplace, and later accompanied by a Zune Music Marketplace. Both Zune Marketplaces were replaced by the new Xbox Music and Xbox Video services in late 2012.
Most complaints and criticisms leveled at the Xbox Live service concerned the Xbox Live Marketplace:
Per Marketplace design, the digital rights management license for downloaded content is tied to both a specific user and to a specific console. This means that to access the content, the user either needs to be signed on to Xbox Live using their Gamertag, or be playing on the original console the content was purchased on.
As a result, users with replacement consoles cannot use previously downloaded content without being connected to Xbox Live. This has the effect of restricting usage of purchased content when no Internet connection is available. An additional wrinkle is added when there are multiple accounts on one console. In this case, all accounts can normally share content when it was downloaded on that system. However, if the system is replaced, then only the actual Xbox Live account to which the content is tied can make use of it (a workaround exists whereby the non-purchasing gamertag can use the content, but only if the original purchasing gamertag is signed into Xbox Live as a secondary profile).
Microsoft's original attempts to resolve these issues were limited to transferring licenses to consoles replaced under warranty. This required contacting Microsoft support, and the console must have been replaced through Microsoft itself or a warranty from the retailer where it was originally purchased. License transfers could not be performed in the case of a voluntary upgrade (e.g., if the user purchased a newer Xbox 360 replace their old console).
As of June 2008, Microsoft has released an online tool that allows users to transfer licenses from the console where they were originally purchased to another. This is done in a two-step process, where all licenses are first migrated on the server side, and then downloaded onto the new console. To prevent abuse, this process can only be performed every four months. Licenses remain bound to the Gamertag regardless, so users who store their profiles on portable memory units can continue to use purchased content on any console when signed into the service.
Price consistency and whether some content should be available free of charge has also been a source of criticism related to the Xbox Live Marketplace. A notable incident was Microsoft charging for a Gears of War map pack that developer Epic desired to provide at no cost (although it was made free four months later in September 2007). Exacerbating the controversy, Game Informer made claims that Microsoft forced companies to charge for content the company itself wanted to distribute free. In this case, Microsoft Publishing was responsible for setting the price, with this not actually being a policy of the Xbox team or Xbox Live Marketplace as was implied. Free content is indeed possible, but much of the free content is promotional in nature, such as the titles Yaris and Dash of Destruction..
The Microsoft Points system previously required to purchase content was criticized for being deceptive in terms of actual real-world cost, as well as for users often having to purchase more points at once than are immediately needed (in North America, users could only purchase points in increments of 400, costing around $5). In June 2013, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of points in favor of credit using local currencies, which took effect in an Xbox 360 software update released on August 26, 2013.
After the Spring 2007 dashboard update, Microsoft increased the security on the regional content restrictions. This made obtaining entertainment content for international markets impossible, while the US market has a substantial offering in comparison. Even some free content, such as downloadable extras for retail games, is impossible to obtain in certain regions, despite there being no legal or censorship problems (an example of this would be the second Gears of War map pack; while the first pack was initially available free worldwide, the Spring 2007 update made both unavailable to many Xbox 360 owners).
In the case of New Zealand, all child accounts were banned from downloading any marketplace content in mid-June. As of October 15, 2010[update] these are still locked from downloading anything apart from software updates and user-created content, no matter what the rating.
Besides using direct funds to purchase items from the Xbox Games Store, Microsoft offered Xbox gift cards that could be purchased at retail outlets or included in game packages. These cards included a 25 alpha-numeric code that could be redeemed via the Xbox or on the web for specific content or towards Xbox Points to be used for purchase on the store.
In 2017, Volodymyr Kvashuk was hired at a contractor within Microsoft. He was part of a team to test Microsoft's e-commerce websites which included the purchasing of Xbox gift cards. Kvashuk found that in the test scenarios, he was being given legitimate Xbox gift card codes. He began quietly collecting codes and later sold these to others. By the time he was caught by federal agents, he had obtained over $10 million in value of Xbox gift cards and sold these at about half their value for Bitcoin, from which he purchase an expensive house and car. Microsoft had discovered the large use of these gift cards and eventually traced it to an internal source, leading them and federal agents to Kvashuk, who was convicted and found guilty on 18 felonies in 2020.