- So, we at GSW just got delivered the September 2007 issue of Future's Official Xbox Magazine, and sure, there's a Beautiful Katamari demo on the cover-disc, but the big, major, extremely significant news is in Francesca Reyes' Letter From The Editor for the month.

Remember when our own Kevin Gifford suggested that Nintendo Power get its own Wii Channel? Well, that hasn't happened for the Wii, but Reyes reveals something rather similar for the Xbox 360: "Sometime late this month (July) we're kicking off a project on Xbox Live Marketplace called OXM Digital... Think of it as a digital digest of our mag, but with lots of exclusive interactive content, including gamer pics, themes, videos, galleries... stuff we can't do in print."

But there's more, and I suspect this bit will be the most interesting and controversial element: "And yes, OXM Digital also sports exclusive demos. Yes, demos." Reyes goes on: "Its cost? A pithy 200 Microsoft Points ($2.50)." There's lots more info about it from Senior Editor Dan Amrich in an Xbox.com forum post (scroll down), and he explains of the concept that there will be exclusive demos alongside the videos, themes, gamer pictures, etc:

"If you're a disc person, you get your disc as you always have, and the demo in question will be on there. If you are a Marketplace person, you get your download. It's whichever version works better for you, but you don't have to miss out when we get exclusive demos like Katamari Damacy or Eternal Sonata or whatever. (Corporate hat on: I cannot confirm any specific demos that will appear in OXM Digital at this time. OXMD #1 is close to release but not there yet.)"

[In the mag, Reyes goes on to explain what the OXM Digital deal means for print subscribers: "But as a reader of OXM, you're already paying money for the magazine and the disc, right? Well fear not: You'll still receive all those demos we run on OXM Digital on the disc. So if you're not on Live or choose not to use your MS Points on OXM Digital (though the suits upstairs will probably kill me for saying that) we'll still take care of you with the OXM disc."]

So what of this? I quite like the idea of having more 'exclusive' gamer pictures, etc - I've been using the Beautiful Katamari one that I unlocked off a previous OXM disc for a little while now. And compiling Future's professionally done videos, themes, and screenshot galleries for a not gigantic fee all seems reasonably sensible.

But I'm pretty sure the concept of exclusive retail game demos which even Xbox Live Gold members have to pay for - despite the fact that they're online somewhere - is going to cause a fair bit of ruckus. Still, it depends - if they were demos of titles that you wouldn't see in the U.S. otherwise (which OXM has done before with the Zegapain games) - or maybe even XNA titles (I seem to remember Sony did a similar limited-distribution thing with Yaroze games on discs in the past) then it might be more palatable - just hypothesizing here, though!

[UPDATE: The inevitable NeoGAF thread about this is actually rather positive, and Ryan from OXM pops in as well, noting: "Anyway, glad to hear most of you guys are optimistic about this. Yes, we'll have exclusive demos attached to OXMD (whether they or timed or not will be sorted out on a case-by-case basis, but odds are they'll be timed exclusives just as they've been on the OXM disc), but we're actually pretty excited about the "magazine" content as well. It's got embedded HD video on every page (in HD), themes and gamer pics for download, etc."

He adds: "In fact, my favorite part of issue #1 is the video version of our July issue's Gears of War "Epic Journey" feature, where we accompanied and filmed the Nightmare Armor Studios guys as they drove to Epic to surprise Mark Rein, CliffyB, and co. with the first replica Gears armor. If/when you download it after it goes up, that feature will be the kind of thing we'll be aiming for on a regular basis."]