By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Senior management at Xbox 360 has moved quickly to assure retailers that the upcoming introduction of full game downloads through the Xbox Live site will not adversely affect sales at the retail level.

Explaining the move into online sales is Xbox senior product manager Jeremy Hinton.

“Shortly we will release full Xbox 360 games on demand, but we’re doing that in a very structured way. We’re going to work with our retail partners and let them do what they do best, which is sell new releases; if there is content that is either no longer available in the market or has reached a low sales figure, then we’ll make it available on line so that consumers can still access that content.”

When asked if this would lead to more and more games, including new releases, being released for online sale, effectively bypassing the retailer, Hinton said “no”, indicating that consumers like to purchase hard copy games through traditional channels.

“There’s an inherent value in the disc that consumers now value more than ever, [downloading games through Xbox Live is] not necessarily appealing to that consumer that may want to trade in the game or get a back catalogue title. We’re saying, ‘it’s no longer available at retail, we’ll make it available on the [Xbox Live] service’.”

Hinton said that Microsoft, suppliers of the Xbox 360, had consulted regularly with its supplier partners before deciding to move forward with this retail strategy. He reported that retail groups had been supportive, despite many of them having natural aversions to suppliers dealing directly with consumers.

“The feedback’s been good. [The retailers] feel that there is that inherent value in the disc, they don’t see any impact to their business.”

Hinton further confirmed that Xbox 360 games sold through the Live service would be available at the “highest retail price”.