Rock Shopping

by Steve Bowler on March 22, 2008

in business,user interface

I finally was able to grab the new patch for Rock Band, the one that gives you the new store, and from a business perspective I find it an awesome experiment in user interface.

Since November of 2007 there’s been quite a few songs released (71 by my count), and I’ve been downloading the ones I’m interested in as I remember to check for them through the XBLA Marketplace.  The problem with this traditional DLC mechanic is that the list of tracks is very long, and the details for each track aren’t exactly consumer-friendly.

I don’t listen to a lot of radio, so I don’t know the names of most new bands or the names of their songs, but I can recognize melodies and choruses that I’ve heard before (I mean, who can’t, really), which is no doubt one of the reasons why iTunes has enjoyed quite a bit of success.  The preview feature is a fool-proof way to make sure the song is one you want to buy.

Not only does the store do an amazing job of grouping the content in a way the user expects, and giving you an easy visual method of knowing if you’ve already purchased the song or not, it also supplies you with the album cover art, and even shows a difficulty chart of the song for the band and for each part.  And on top of all that, it has a preview for each song available.  Finally.

The crowning achievement topping off the entire store is the fact that I don’t have to leave the game to buy new content.  Thanks to the new easy song visibility and the preview mode, I wound up grabbing six songs that I hadn’t purchased previous to today.  That’s $12 of my money they just nabbed without really delivering any new content.  Just framing the content in a manner that was more organized so their consumers could more easily consume it earned them more of my money.  That’s good business.

Now if only they’d let me download the songs in the background.  You could do it via Marketplace (queue up your purchases for download and start playing Rockband while they downloaded).  Why is that not enabled through the store?

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