LONDON, 17th April , 2003 - Xbox®, the video game system from Microsoft, today announced the early success of its European launch of Xbox Live, the first comprehensive, online game service fully dedicated to fast-action broadband gaming experiences.
There are now more than 50,000 gamers playing Xbox Live in Europe since the launch at retail on 14th March in eight European countries. Tens of thousands of gamers have joined the thousands of gamers who were already experiencing Live on the Consumer Test Drive, a preview programme that ran in the UK, France and Germany from November 2002. Brisk sales in all eight countries mirror the successful US launch in November, and have led to many retailers selling out in the first few days and re-ordering Xbox Live Starter Kits.
Living and Loving Live in Europe
With Xbox Live, players can now connect with each other across Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan, chatting with old friends and meeting new ones to share game experiences online, no matter where they are or what time of day it is. With Xbox Live gamers are not only playing, but also chatting, using a growing glossary of online slang, making friends and rivals, and even brushing up their language skills. Dedicated Xbox Live social gaming communities are emerging on the web, where Live gamers meet, give feedback and hang out.
“We’re really excited to be reporting successful sales so soon after launch. The feedback and take-up has been very encouraging. Gamers want to be a part of this growing online community and Xbox is the only console in Europe to offer this now” said Michel Cassius, Senior Director of Xbox Platform and Marketing.
Since the European launch of Xbox Live on 14th March, tens of thousands of gamers in Europe have experienced the fun and excitement of the Xbox Live gaming experience. The next countries to launch will join a vibrant community of users in Europe and the rest of the world. In North America, where the service launched in November 2002, gamers are having so much fun with Xbox Live that they’re spending an average of 2.5 hours per day Live gaming. A survey of Test Drive gamers by Microsoft revealed that 96% would recommend Xbox Live to a friend and 97% of Xbox Live gamers were able to connect easily to Xbox Live, with no issues whatsoever.
For the average price of a new game (£39.99 / €59.99), the Starter Kit includes a one-year subscription to Xbox Live, the Xbox Communicator voice headset, and online demo versions of “MechAssault” (Microsoft Game Studios), “MotoGP” (THQ), and “Whacked!™” (Microsoft Game Studios), so players can start competing against their friends right away. All Xbox video game systems come with a built-in Ethernet port and hard drive, enabling any Xbox owner to plug into Xbox Live through almost any broadband provider.
In addition, sales of Xbox Live-enabled games have increased since the retail launch of the service. For multi-platform titles, the Xbox version is outselling non-online versions on other platforms.
"We are delighted to report healthy sales of Xbox Live Starter Kits since 14th March," said Alex Croft, Buying Director for GAME Stores Group Ltd. "Xbox has been great about giving us, and more importantly our store staff the tools that we need to explain the service to our customers, and it's paying off. We look forward to continuing our involvement with Xbox Live and with Xbox as a long term strategy."
Xbox Live has also been a success with publishing partners: "In the first few weeks since its launch, Xbox Live has already shown itself to be a commercial success,” said Bruno Bonnell, Chairman and CEO, Infogrames. “The service is also proving to be a fantastic creative enhancement for Unreal Championship.”
"I’m not surprised that Microsoft’s Xbox Live kit has met with such great success. I’m sure that the service is only going to gain momentum as it is launched in other European countries,” said Yves Guillemot, President and CEO of Ubi Soft Entertainment. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Microsoft’s Xbox Live make the perfect match. An award-winning tactical shooter, this blockbuster Ubi Soft title will allow thousands of Xbox Live gamers to immerse themselves online, share experiences with other players and discover a whole new dimension to gaming.”
The technology industry has also been impressed by Xbox Live. Chip, one of Europe’s leading technology publications, awarded its coveted “Most Innovative Product in Entertainment, CeBIT 2003” prize to Xbox Live. The award is considered one of the “Oscars of CeBIT”, the world’s largest technology trade event.
Globally, Xbox Live plays host to well over 350,000 users and more than three million game sessions per week and that figure looks set to grow over the coming months. Geographical barriers disappear as friendships – and rivalries – have developed amongst people around Europe and the world. Gamers can find their friends easily; talk to other players during game play through the Xbox Communicator headset; create a special Gamertag that is exclusively theirs and will stay with them as long as they’re playing Live and building their legend online.
European gamers have been enthusiastic about Xbox Live since launch:
· "£40 a year is honestly nothing for what is the best thing ever. I honestly never get bored of playing and the people online are funny as hell so it’s just all good fun playing live. No lag what so ever, perfect games, easy to setup and play, 10/10!"
· "I never believed that console games are a good choice for online-gaming. I was wrong. In the future, every game with a lack of Live-Support will recognise that."
· "There is nothing like screaming at your opponent while blasting them with a Lightning gun… The communicator really does rock."
· "Your friends live in England, Germany, USA, France...how do you get them to sit in your living room to co-ordinate the storming of Red Square in Ghost Recon...they're there...and talking to you...on Xbox Live"
· "Xbox Live means Xbox has just got even better! Xbox Live games are the most intense, exciting experience you can have in your arm-chair. It's taking over my life!"
· “Quick, easy and everyone has the same kind of connection”
“The feedback is clear - gamers love Xbox Live,” said Cassius. “The benefits of Xbox Live’s service-led approach, as opposed to an add-on peripheral approach, mean that the gamer’s experience is a better, smoother one – no lag associated with narrowband and no cheating and hacking because of a decentralised approach. Xbox Live has already captured the imagination of gamers all over the world, now even more of Europe will be able to experience this next step in social entertainment and community console gaming”
Xbox Live fans have so far had plenty of great games to keep them busy since launch. The Starter Kit includes special demo versions of MechAssault, MotoGP and Whacked!, and there are already 11 great Xbox Live-compatible games on the shelves such as Unreal Championship (Infogrames Inc), Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon™ (Ubi Soft Entertainment) and “MechAssault” (Microsoft Game Studios).
More, great Xbox Live games are continuing to arrive in stores on a regular basis, ensuring gamers have a great selection from many different genres. Upcoming games include:
· Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Lucas Arts) - Multiplayer and Downloadable Content
· Godzilla (Infogrames) - Downloadable Content
· MotoGP 2 (THQ) - Multiplayer
· Phantasy Star Online (Sega) - Multiplayer
· Burnout 2 (Acclaim) - Online Scoreboards
· Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Activision) - Multiplayer and Downloadable Content
· Midtown Madness (Microsoft Games Studios) - Multiplayer and Downloadable Content
· Midnight Club 2 (Take2 Interactive/Rockstar) - Multiplayer
· Brute Force (Microsoft Games Studios) - Downloadable Content
This is just the start of a great portfolio of games for Xbox Live - 2003 will see the launch of more than 50 Xbox Live-enabled games, including Counter-Strike, Star Wars: Galaxies and Project Gotham Racing 2. More than 60 game publishers are currently working on Xbox Live-enabled games.