SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp plans to release 200 new sports, action-adventure and other video games this year for its Xbox video-game console and Xbox Live online service.
Also on Monday, Microsoft brushed aside the news that the industry’s top video-game maker, Electronic Arts, is developing online games for the Xbox’s chief rival, Sony’s PlayStation 2 while continuing to ignore Microsoft’s online platform.
The Redmond, Washington-based software giant announced the new games at E3, Electronic Entertainment Expo , in Los Angeles.
The company also plans to release new software to turn the Xbox system into a broader entertainment device, capable of showing digital pictures, storing and playing digital music and even doubling as a karaoke machine.
Microsoft’s new offerings included games to bring in new players as well as satisfy its current base of Xbox users, said Robbie Bach, senior vice-president of Microsoft’s Home and Entertainment Division and chief Xbox officer.
The lineup also included about 30 new games for Xbox Live, Bach said. The company expects to have a total of 100 titles for Xbox Live by mid-May 2004. The service, launched in November, had about 500,000 subscribers around the world, Bach said.
In addition, Microsoft unveiled its XSN Sports lineup, in which Xbox Live players can create their own leagues, teams and tournaments. It also announced new features, such as allowing gamers to receive invitations to join games on wireless phones and digital devices.
But Microsoft’s new offerings will not include online versions of the blockbuster sports games made by Electronic Arts. The Redwood City, California-based developer of the popular Madden NFL and Tiger Woods PGA Tour games plans to debut its online versions only for Sony game machines.
The Music Mixer, a US$39.99 Xbox addition that turns the console into a karaoke machine for example, was an expansion of the Xbox into general entertainment, not just video games, said Bach.
It also reflected Microsoft’s strategy of integrating its Xbox into its family of software for the personal computer, said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Forrester Research. - AP
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