Xbox Live Sets New Online Gaming Benchmark
Xbox Popularity Rises with Steady Market Share Growth in 2004
London, 20th January 2005 ? Coming off one of the hottest Christmas seasons for video games sales in history, Microsoft Corp. today announced that its Xbox? LiveTM online gaming service has set a new standard for online gaming with more than 1.4 million members around the world, surpassing expectations and cementing its position as a leader in the digital entertainment landscape.
"Our consumers are passionate about online gameplay and seek larger than life digital entertainment experiences," said Robbie Bach, senior vice president of the Home and Entertainment Division and Chief Xbox Officer at Microsoft. "We will continue to offer our thriving community best-in-class games, downloadable content, unique programming and the expanded features and services found only on Xbox and Xbox Live."
The success of Xbox Live reinforces a stellar European Christmas season for the Xbox platform, according to data from Chart Track and Gfk. Highlights include:
# Xbox was the only platform to see year-to-year growth during Q4 as well as the full calendar year 2004, while the overall market was down year-to-year.
# Xbox market share for 2004 was an impressive 29.46 percent, increasing 7 points from the 2003 calendar year (UK).
# Overall software sales for Xbox lead the way in 2004, growing units sales 44 percent during Q4 and 48 percent for the calendar year 2004.
There are now more than 200 Xbox Live-enabled titles, making it the richest library of online console games available today. "Halo? 2" ? which has now sold more than 6.4 million copies worldwide since November ? helped propel the service to new heights. The overall Halo franchise, which includes predecessor "Halo?: Combat Evolved" for the PC and Xbox, has sold a collective 12.8 million copies in just three years.
"The Xbox Live community has an insatiable appetite for riveting, connected and social game experiences," said Cameron Ferroni, general manager of Xbox Live. "Our ongoing vision is to create online experiences that top anything else our community has seen to date. 'Halo 2' is another great example of how Xbox Live continues to set the standard for online gameplay."
Smashing previously established records, the Xbox Live community has logged a record-breaking 91 million hours playing "Halo 2" since the title's launch ? more than any other Xbox Live game in the two-year history of the service. In addition, the instantly immersive gameplay has resulted in close to 61 million logged sessions on the game, with an average session lasting nearly 92 minutes, approximately the length of a major motion picture.
Blockbuster Xbox Live-enabled titles in 2005 promise to boost additional Xbox Live membership growth. Games such as Microsoft Game Studios' "Forza MotorsportTM," LucasArts' "Star Wars Republic CommandoTM," Vicarious Visions' "Doom IIITM" and Rare's "ConkerTM: Live and Reloaded" promise to drive additional online gaming growth in the coming months.
Additionally, Xbox Live members in Europe will soon be able to enjoy Xbox Live Arcade - a new social experience that brings popular retro classics and broad appeal games directly to the Xbox console over the Xbox Live service. Coming to Europe this Spring, members will have a personal arcade connected to Xbox Live, offering quick and easy access to classic arcade games like "Ms. Pac-Man" and "Dig Dug", as well as exciting new games like "Bejeweled" and "Alien Sky". From late-night gamers to those looking for a quick five-minute game fix between "Halo 2" matches, Xbox Live Arcade has something for everyone in the household.
Microsoft introduced the first broadly adopted online gaming service in North America in November 2002 and in Europe in March 2003, and continues to expand the appeal and adoption of broadband. The service continues to evolve with improved features like downloadable content, voice messages and alerts, coupled with highly anticipated games and unique programming such as "Game with Fame", "Play and Win", and "Mystery Gamer."
Xbox (http://www.xbox.com) is the video game system from Microsoft that brings people together for the most exhilarating game and entertainment experiences. Xbox delivers an expansive collection of breakthrough games, powerful hardware and the unified Xbox Live online service. The tag line, "It's good to play together," captures the spirit of Xbox as the social hub of the new digital entertainment lifestyle. Xbox is now available in the UK for an estimated street price of ?99.99.
About Xbox Live
A new frontier in imagination and extraordinary interaction, no one else offers the richness of online gameplay found on Xbox Live. The world's only unified global online console games service, Xbox Live is continuously innovating to provide members with unparalleled experiences. This unique service unites gamers together in a dynamic community where they can experience the best online games, exclusive programming and continuous downloadable content. Xbox Live launched in the United States in November 2002 and is available in 24 countries. Please visit http://www.xbox.com/live for more information.
About Microsoft Game Studios
Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox? video game system and Windows and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows (http://www.microsoft.com/games/), including such franchises as "Age of Empires?," "Flight Simulator" and "Zoo Tycoon?"; Xbox (http://www.xbox.com/), including such franchises as "Halo?," "Project Gotham Racing?" and Zone.com (http://www.zone.com/), the official games channel for the MSN? network and home to such hits as "Bejeweled" and "OutSmartTM."
Bungie Studios was founded in 1991 with two goals: to develop games that combine brilliant technology, beautiful art, intelligent stories and deep gameplay, and then sell enough of those games to achieve its real goal of total world domination. Over the past 10 years it has produced games such as the "Marathon Trilogy" and the first two "Myth" games, hailed as classics by critics and gamers around the world. Released in 2001, "Halo: Combat Evolved" has achieved phenomenal success on the Microsoft Xbox video game system and is also available for the PC. More information on Bungie can be found at http://www.bungie.net.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.