Xbox Community Games: “NOW You get rid of the Automatic Download!?”

Back in the spring of 2007 Microsoft rolled out an Xbox 360 dashboard update that added a new Marketplace blade, Windows Live Messenger integration, MPEG-4 support, and a host of fixes and tweaks. Seemingly covered up among this spattering of fresh paint was the Automatic Download feature. Turned on it would automatically grab the week’s Xbox Live Arcade trial game and usher in a new era of “hey, where’d this come from” gaming. But with only one (and sometimes TWO!) new games each week it was pretty much a given that anyone with an Xbox connected to the internet would download the trail games on their own.

After years of neglect, and with the massive New Xbox Experience on its way, Microsoft announced that the Automatic Download feature would soon be retired. It’s doesn’t quite live up to the old addage “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” since there wasn’t anything before the NXE update that I couldn’t keep track of myself, but I sure do miss that auto download option today.

It’s pathetically easy to keep up with Xbox Live Arcade as we still only get two games a week, but the new Community Games section constantly keeps me feeling left behind. It seems like almost every day I check it there’s something new, and with the Herculean hand of Microsoft lifted just a little there are several games that have snuck onto our consoles that you’d never see outside of a PC desktop.

Weapon of Choice still stands as the most “retail worthy” release so far but several games offer more fun, originality, and creativity than most of what gets officially sanctioned on Xbox Live Arcade. Truly, I’d rather pay for Artoon or Petank Party than MLB Stickball or Shadow Assault/Tenchu. Knowing that at least a few of my Microsoft points go to these indie developers is almost rewarding enough to make up for the lack of Achievements.

Once a week I try to hit the Community Games channel and download all the trial games that look new. With so many releases popping up without the benefit of in-Dashboard ads and Major Nelson shoutouts, an Auto Download feature would finally be useful. Instead of hunting down each new release and queueing up the trial, they’d simply populate my Games Library with mysterious titles like In the Pit and Zombie Smashers X4 Guitarpocalypse just a button press away.

But with so many different hard drives on the market (and some Xboxes with none at all) and the ability to fill them up with movies, TV shows, Arcade games, and full game installs, I suppose the thinking was ‘let’s not have all these trial games eating up space that people may not even be aware of’. Still, it’s sad that the option is gone now that I’d finally use it so I’ll assuage my soul by trying to call out the Community Games I’ve found particularly fun and creative and doing my part to get them noticed. Look for more Community Game posts soon and in the meantime go download some trials will ya!?