You are immediately greeted with games, sales, and what friends are playing when you log into Steam.
Both of these platforms utilize weekly themed sales that constantly bubble content to the top of the service and list it with the new releases. Microsoft does this on occasion, but the inconsistency and placement seems off. The effect of these sales don’t seem to have the same weight behind them as the Steam sales do. One Co-Optimus editor even commented that it seems the same 10 games are always on sale on XBLA.
Perhaps the biggest misstep is the lack of social integration. You’ve got a friends list full of gamers just like you, why not utilize features like wishlists, gifting, and timelines of what people have been playing and/or purchasing. All features that are prominent in Steam.
Maybe it’s the lack of competition that has driven the service into such an obscure state. With such a tightly controlled group of games, and so many retail releases, the market for these games simply isn’t what it used to be. For every Trials HD, which has sold over 1.5 million - you have an Adventures of Shuggy that struggles to find its ground with less than 7k in sales. There’s a huge gap between the top and bottom with almost no middle ground.
One final speculation in all this, might place the blame on something nobody has control of - time. The simple ebb and flow of what gamers are putting their money where has changed. The early adopters, the core gamers - they’ve moved on from the consoles and back to the PC for smaller, bite sized games. There’s an absolute revolution going on in the world of PC gaming when it comes to self publishing and Indie gaming. The twilight of this console generation is still seeing the big AAA releases, but XBLA and PSN are no longer the best place to ply your wares as a smaller developer.
But these trends are cyclic, and it’s a sure bet as soon as Microsoft or Sony releases new hardware, the core gamers will come back in troves gobbling up every gaming morsel available to them - lets just hope it’s not hidden behind a screen full of ads for other content.