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Microsoft to take a bite out of "consumables"

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Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade and Marketplace have been hot topics this week, especially following the announcement of XNA Game Studio Express on Monday. Speaking at Gamefest 2006, Microsoft has further clarified some of their plans to enhance their online nexus of downloadable demos and managed microtransactions, most interestingly annoucing their intention to make a meal out of Marketplace "consumables."

As enticing as the prospect of downloading a slice of lemon meringue pie might be, the experience is considerably dulled when you have to watch your in-game character devour it. Items that would be considered as consumables would be ones that you could purchase multiple times and whenever you needed them, and the example cited by the 1UP article points to this being a potentially ludicrous concept. Let's say your level 54 sorcerer (call him ... Tim) is in need of a Phoenix Down, but your party doesn't have enough gold to purchase one. Solution: rather than traipsing through a dungeon and obtaining items from slain beasties (why was that dinosaur carrying a potion?), you could be hitting the Xbox Live Marketplace and buying more gold.

So, let's see if we understand how this goes. Use your real money to buy Microsoft's fake money to buy fake gold in order to buy fake potions from a fake in-game marketplace. Obviously, this is a rather extreme way of looking at consumables, but it certainly provides food for thought -- especially so should you consider the fact that by purchasing the game, you've ostensibly purchased the entire game world, marketplaces and overpriced inns included. Thankfully, just as with any marketplace transactions, it's still up to you to decide when something is worth the extra money and when it isn't (hint: equine items of protection).

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