Two weeks ago, while I was at Electronic Arts seeing the abomination that is Wing Commander Arena, I heard peep that Microsoft was about to increase the size restrictions on its Xbox Live Arcade service. Turns out the rumors were true. Monday, Microsoft announced that it would triple the size cap, raising it to 150 MBs. However, there’s a catch. The 50 MB limit that’s been in place since XBLA launched is still very much in effect. In fact, if developers currently working on games for XBLA suddenly decide to increase their size beyond 50 MBs, Microsoft says that they’ll have to resubmit their proposals and paperwork.
So while XBLA games can now be larger, it’ll take a near act of god, or Gates, to reach that limit. Why? Because, said a Microsoft spokesperson, there is no reason to cram giant files into an XBLA game, especially one that’s hitting a $15 price point, the most expensive pricing for XBLA games. These restrictions shouldn’t be much of a problem, however, and EA’s current XBLA development teams are unfazed by the prospect of optimizing their games to fit. Wing Commander Arena, for example, is currently 70 MBs, down from 100 MBs a few months ago. The team’s lead designer is confident that fitting under the size cap is the least of his team’s worries.
Where’s Sony in all of this? Why, Sony has no size restrictions. Much like it’s slap-dash approach to game interaction in its online PS3 services, Sony has no official policy towards the size of downloads. Representatives speaking to Gigagamez, Monday, stated that Sony’s service has offered downloads as large as two GBs in size. Meanwhile, Nintendo continues to increase its size restrictions, kilobyte by kilobyte. At this rate, the Wii should offer players games in the 100 KB range before the end of the year. Of course, that last bit is just a snarky stab at Nintendo’s lack of online policies and plans.