This morning Larry Hryb (aka Major Nelson), Director of Programming for Xbox Live, announced in his blog Xbox Live’s new initiative: Arcade Next. Plans were announced earlier in the week in regards to expanding the Xbox Live Arcade to allow new games to have double the possible achievement points and achievements.

Today they made the announcement of what games will be launching from Microsoft Studios under this initiative. The games start rolling out on April 18th and will release each week through May 9th. The slate of games are as follows:

TRIALS EVOLUTION, April 18 for 1200 Microsoft Points
“Trials Evolution” is on every front, the next dimension of the smash-hit, award-winning “Trials HD.” Bust out of the warehouse into an outdoor world of night and day, curved driving lines, and spectacular scenery. Multiplayer comes alive in your living room or on Xbox LIVE. Build your own tracks with the in-game editor or download those of any other player from the new Track Central. Customize your bike and rider with awesome gear and unique parts, enjoy innovative skill games, try ghost racing, beat your friends’ scores and more! Don’t miss the madness!

BLOODFORGE, April 25 for 1200 Microsoft Points
With a brutal combat system, stunning art style, and a deeply compelling story, “Bloodforge” empowers you to slaughter hordes of demonic soldiers, deformed worshippers, and the gods themselves, using ferocious Rage Kills, devastating Rune attacks, and furious Weapon Combos. Help seal Crom’s fate – and the fate of the rest of the world – in this dark, visceral story of revenge, betrayal, and destiny.

FABLE HEROES, May 2 for 800 Microsoft Points
“Fable Heroes” is an action-packed, hack-and-slash adventure built for Xbox LIVE Arcade. It delivers a fresh spin on the “Fable” franchise with a unique art style and gameplay that takes playful competition to the next level. Whether on the couch or using Xbox LIVE, up to four players work together to defeat enemies while also competing with one another to collect gold coins and level up. Precious gold collected in Fable Heroes can be imported into the forthcoming Kinect title, Fable: The Journey, providing players with a valuable head start from day one.

MINECRAFT: XBOX 360 EDITION, May 9 for 1600 Microsoft Points
The infinite possibilities in “Minecraft” just got bigger. “Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition” brings the global phenomenon to console gamers for the first time. The Xbox LIVE Arcade version of the game features an innovative new crafting interface, natural controller movements, a full Tutorial mode to teach the basics and for the first time in “Minecraft,” split-screen multiplayer as well as over Xbox LIVE.

They also released the following trailer:

Now my thoughts on this whole ‘Arcade Next’ initiative is nothing but positive. There is no downside that I can see with Xbox Live Arcade games having more achievables. It doesn’t hurt that I was already excited for both Fable Heroes and Minecraft’s appearance on Xbox Live.

What are your thoughts on ‘Arcade Next’? What do you think of the launch titles? Let us know in the comments below. Also take our poll and let us know which game(s) you are most excited for.

Source: Announcing ‘Arcade Next’ (Major Nelson)