Digital versions of Xbox 360 titles are not available to buy via Xbox LIVE on release day due to Microsoft's partnership with retailers, the platform holder has explained.

"We have a lot of strong partnerships with retailers," said Xbox Games on Demand senior business manager Erik Yeager during yesterday's MIT Business in Games conference (via Joystiq) .

"We really need them to do a lot for us. They're the ones out there selling the consoles, selling the peripherals and, in this time, we're trying to figure out how to fit that in to the whole digital landscape shift. We're just taking a bit of a measured pace with it."

Digital versions of Xbox 360 titles often don't appear on Xbox Games on Demand for weeks, or sometimes months after their initial release. But with Microsoft's next Xbox expected to place a strong focus on digitally distributed content, the platform holder will surely have to improve its release timings on its store?

"We really strongly believe it's important to have these retail partnerships and the ability to sell our console is the most critical thing for us," Yeager continued. "If you don't sell the console, you can't sell anything else."

Microsoft's stance on day one digital releases appears to be different to both Sony and Nintendo's. Both rival platform holders offer digital versions of the majority of major releases day and date with the retail versions.

Microsoft is expected to announce its next-generation Xbox next month.

Source: Joystiq