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Xbox 360 Kicks Off Next-Gen Battle

26 Sep, 2005 By: John Gaudiosi

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is among the Xbox 360 games.

Nov. 22 is the starting line for the new console race. Microsoft's Xbox 360 launches just before the all-important Thanksgiving weekend at $399 to attract holiday shoppers.

The new console will play HD games, but not HD DVD, although Windows Media PC owners will be able to play HD TV through a wireless home. A bare-bones version of the console will be available for $299.

Microsoft will have roughly 2 million Xbox 360s available for its worldwide launch, with half of those slated for North America, said Billy Pidgeon, video game analyst for American Technology Research.

Pidgeon believes Microsoft will have 12 to 15 titles available for the launch, which is less than the 24 games with which Sony recently launched its PlayStation Portable (PSP).

Those Xbox 360 games will retail for $60, which may explain why fewer games is better for already overcrowded video game store shelves.

At the recent Tokyo Game Show, Microsoft had 27 games on display at its booth, including the WWII first-person shooter Call of Duty 2 from Activision, Capcom's Dead Rising and Resident Evil 5, Namco's Frame City Killer and Ridge Racer 6, Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and Chromehounds, Konami's Rumble Rose XX, THQ's The Outfit and Saint's Row, Atari's Test Drive Unlimited, Microsoft's Kameo: Elements of Power and Ninety-Nine Nights, and Electronic Arts' Need for Speed Most Wanted.

Microsoft also unveiled pricing for its Xbox Live service, which recently won an Emmy and has a user base of 2 million paying subscribers worldwide. While Xbox 360 will come with a free Silver Xbox Live service, an extra $50 will upgrade the 12-month subscription service to Gold, which will allow gamers to play online games. In addition, Microsoft will offer Xbox Live Premium Gold Packs, which include the new Xbox 360 Headset, Xbox Live Arcade games, Microsoft Points for use in Xbox Live Marketplace, and mail-in rebates for up to $20 off any Xbox 360 game.

Microsoft also announced that credit cards will no longer be required to create an account on Xbox Live for Xbox 360, removing one of the biggest barriers to entry. Gamers can purchase 12-month Xbox Live subscription cards via cash or other payment methods at any participating retail store.

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