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Xbox 360 Ushers in Exclusive New Worlds of Entertainment

Xbox 360 Ushers in Exclusive New Worlds of Entertainment
Published by sjohn on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Microsoft announces partnership with Peter Jackson to create two new interactive entertainment series for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live New exclusive “Halo Wars,” “Splinter Cell,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Bioshock,” “Banjo Kazooie” and “DOOM” announcements wow crowd; HD DVD version of Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” to be distributed with Xbox 360 HD DVD Player this fall.

BARCELONA, Spain — Sept. 27, 2006 — On the shores of one of the world’s most artistic and progressive cities, Microsoft Corp. today thrilled attendees at its annual X06 event with announcements and gameplay experiences by inviting everyone to play the next generation now on the Xbox 360™ system. The announcements highlight how the world’s greatest game creators are stretching the bounds of what’s possible in high definition and online storytelling and included the following:

A landmark partnership announced between Academy Award-winning writer, director and producer Peter Jackson, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Fran Walsh, and Microsoft Game Studios will create two new interactive entertainment series exclusively for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live®. The first series will be a collaborative effort with Bungie Studios to co-create the next great chapter in the “Halo®” universe. The second series will be an entirely original property targeted at bringing new audiences into the captivating world of interactive entertainment. In addition, Microsoft Game Studios will partner with Jackson and Walsh to establish Wingnut Interactive, a studio dedicated to the creation of world-class interactive entertainment.

· “Halo Wars” is an all-new real-time strategy game based on the legendary “Halo” universe and designed exclusively for Xbox 360 by Ensemble Studios, creators of the “Age of Empires®” franchise.

· Rockstar and Take-Two announced they will provide Xbox 360 gamers with exclusive access to two downloadable, epic episodes of “Grand Theft Auto IV” via Xbox Live, each with hours of entirely new gameplay and available only on Xbox 360 just months after the release of the title.

· Ubisoft confirmed that the next “Splinter Cell” title, the next installment in the series after “Splinter Cell Double Agent,” will be a console-exclusive on Xbox 360, a testament to the ability of Xbox 360 to deliver a complete experience no other console can match.

· 2K Games confirmed that “BioShock,” a revolution in the genre that will forever change the expectations for first-person shooters, will be released exclusively on Xbox 360 and Microsoft® Windows® next spring.

· “Project Gotham Racing® 4,” the latest addition to the best-selling racing franchise from Bizarre Creations exclusively for Xbox 360, was unveiled. “Project Gotham Racing 4” promises to continue the “Project Gotham Racing” pedigree of innovation by introducing exciting new experiences to racing fans worldwide.

· The beloved “Banjo-Kazooie®” franchise will breathe new, high-definition life on Xbox 360 exclusively from famed developer Rare Ltd.; astonishing next-generation visuals and presentation reunite beloved characters Banjo, Kazooie and Gruntilda — among other fan favorites — with their sharp wit and hilarious sense of humor.

· Microsoft Game Studios announced its highly anticipated new massively multiplayer online game, “Marvel Universe Online” for Xbox 360 and the Windows Vista™ operating system, developed by industry luminaries Cryptic Studios, creators of the smash hit “City of Heroes.”

· Two additions to Xbox Live Arcade were announced: the first-person shooter that pioneered the network-gaming era, “DOOM®,” from acclaimed developer id Software and Activision, is available today for download via Sensible World of Soccer” from Codemasters. Based on the classic 1994 Amiga title, “Sensible World of Soccer” will let gamers choose between the original graphics or an updated, high-resolution look and feel — while still capturing the original’s entire world of football.

· Arriving at retailers in North America, the U.K, France and Germany in mid-November 2006, the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player will retail for $199.99 in North America (estimated retail price)* and €199.99/£129.99 (estimated retail price)* in the U.K., France and Germany. The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player comes with the Universal Pictures’ blockbuster film Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” on HD DVD (for a limited time) and the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.

“Xbox 360 is changing the way developers are telling stories today — from the industry’s most beloved franchises to exciting new properties,” said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business in the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “We are inspiring the imaginations of the entertainment industry’s best and most creative talent to take their franchises in exciting directions, while also spinning new tales for everyone.”

“We are incredibly pleased to be here in Barcelona to talk about the next chapter of Xbox and how Xbox 360 continues to deliver on the promise and potential of the next generation,” said Chris Lewis, regional vice president of the Home and Entertainment Division, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), at Microsoft. “As we prepare to launch some of our biggest global titles and best regional content both right now and well into the future, consumers will have much to choose from with a system designed for high-definition and online entertainment. We are the only next-generation experience that seamlessly connects players to their games, friends and entertainment content.”

Xbox 360 Stretches Popular Franchises in New Directions

Xbox 360 continues to expand the interactive entertainment landscape, enabling industry superstars to take beloved franchises in exciting new directions. Microsoft Game Studios announced its partnership with Peter Jackson to herald in a new age of interactive entertainment that can only be realized on Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. The goal of this partnership is to create new stories and redefine the way they are told. The first part of this long-term relationship is for Jackson, Walsh and team to bring to life two new interactive entertainment experiences exclusively for the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. The first project is to co-write, co-design and co-produce a completely new and original chapter in the “Halo” universe in collaboration with Bungie Studios. The second project is an entirely original property from the team in New Zealand that will not only bring a whole new interactive story to life, but will also captivate new audiences that have yet to discover the power of interactive entertainment.

In addition, in collaboration with Microsoft Game Studios, Jackson and Walsh are creating Wingnut Interactive. The two will create a world-class interactive entertainment studio that fuses the strength of Microsoft’s technology and interactive entertainment experience with the creative and imaginative excellence of the Wingnut Interactive team.

“Microsoft has built an amazing living canvas with Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, which allows the storytellers of our time to express themselves in a new medium. They have fundamentally changed how people think about games,” Jackson said. “My vision, together with Microsoft Game Studios, is to push the boundaries of game development and the future of interactive entertainment. From a movie-maker’s point of view, it is clear to me that the Xbox 360 platform is the stage where storytellers can work their craft in the same way they do today with movies and books but taking it further with interactivity.”

In addition to demonstrating its leadership in the next-generation of games through exclusive alliances, Microsoft Game Studios announced “Halo Wars,” an all-new real-time strategy game based on the legendary “Halo” universe and built exclusively for Xbox 360 by Ensemble Studios, the creators of the “Age of Empires” series. “Halo Wars” places the player in command of human UNSC armies as they deploy for mankind’s first deadly encounter with the enemy Covenant forces.

In addition, Microsoft Game Studios provided first details surrounding “Project Gotham Racing 4,” the latest addition to the premiere racing franchise from Bizarre Creations and the reunion of Banjo, Kazooie and Gruntilda in an all-new addition to the “Banjo-Kazooie” franchise from industry veterans Rare.

Microsoft and Ubisoft announced that the next “Splinter Cell” title will be created exclusively for Xbox 360. Based on the increasingly proven potential of the Xbox 360 hardware and its online promise, Ubisoft confirmed that Xbox 360 will be the exclusive platform for the next iteration of its influential and massively popular espionage franchise. Through the power of Xbox Live, the series that revolutionized online cooperative and competitive gameplay promises to transform and modernize online gaming once again.

New details regarding the exclusive, epic episodic content for the upcoming and highly anticipated “Grand Theft Auto IV” from Rockstar and Take-Two were also revealed; Rockstar Games will offer two downloadable episodes, each with hours of entirely new gameplay, extending the experience of an already immense game. Both chapters will be exclusive and available only to Xbox 360 gamers via Xbox Live. “Grand Theft Auto IV” will be available to Xbox 360 gamers on its first day of availability: Oct. 16, 2007, in North America and Oct. 19, 2007, in Europe. Release dates for the two downloadable episodes have not yet been announced.

Xbox Live Arcade made a surprise unveiling today of one of the greatest games of the
3-D era: “DOOM” (id Software) is now available for download for 800 points. The game brings legendary “DOOM” mayhem to gamers, who for the first time ever can relive the classic demon-blasting fragfest in both single-player and two-to-four player co-operative and deathmatch modes over Xbox Live. Also a new, multititle relationship with Codemasters was announced, with the first title being the classic, fast-action soccer game, “Sensible World of Soccer.”

Xbox Live is a thriving online game community, connecting more than 3 million members across nearly 25 countries to enjoy hundreds of social games, as well as on-demand game demos, Xbox Live Arcade games, and music and movie content. With more than 10 million downloads to date and nearly 100 independent, classic and original development titles available by next summer, Xbox Live Arcade is a fast-growing phenomenon.

Most Affordable Way for Xbox 360 Owners to Jump Into the Next-Generation of DVD

At X06, exciting details about the highly anticipated Xbox 360 HD DVD Player were also revealed. Available in mid-November 2006 in North America for $199.99 (estimated retail price)*, in the U.K., France and Germany for €199.99 (£129.99) (estimated retail price)* and other territories in 2007, the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player comes with the Universal Pictures blockbuster film Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” on HD DVD (for a limited time) and the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote. Users can just add Xbox 360 HD DVD Player to Xbox 360 to create the ultimate home-theater experience.

“The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player is the best high-definition movie experience and value on the market,” Moore said. “The reviews, the word of mouth and the consumer response have all been crystal clear — HD DVD is the format of choice. We’re not forcing movie technology on game players but are instead letting them choose how to personalize their experiences. If they want HD DVD, there’s no better value out there.”

The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player offers up to six times higher resolution than DVD, and as part of the fall 2006 console update all Xbox 360 consoles will have the ability to output native resolution 1080p games and movies. Users can enjoy blockbuster HD DVD releases, with more than 150 titles available by the holidays from major movie studios including HBO, Paramount Pictures, StudioCanal, Universal Studios, New Line Entertainment and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The Industry’s Most Anticipated Titles Are Coming to Xbox 360

In addition to taking popular franchises in new directions, developers are finding new life through Xbox 360 with exciting new content and are delivering many of the industry’s most praised and anticipated titles.

Arguably the most anticipated title of 2006, “Gears of War” from Epic Games and Microsoft Game Studios is a third-person tactical action/horror game available exclusively on Xbox 360. “Gears of War” will be the only game to blend a deep and disturbing story of human survival against hordes of nightmarish creatures with a next-generation tactical combat system and unsurpassed visuals and special effects. “Gears of War,” which will be available Nov. 12, 2006, in the U.S. and Nov. 17, 2006, in Europe, has garnered numerous industry awards and accolades including the Game Critics Awards Best Console and Best Action Game of E3 2006, IGN’s E3 2005 Best Xbox 360 Game, and GameSpot’s E3 2006 People’s Choice Award.

From leading U.K.-based developer Rare and Microsoft Game Studios comes “Viva Piñata™,” an original game concept and the latest innovative gaming experience for gamers of all ages and types. “Viva Piñata” invites gamers to create an immersive world where living piñatas inhabit an ever-changing environment. “Viva Pinata,” which has won several industry awards including Best Graphics from Nick Jr. Magazine and IGN’s Runner-Up for Best Strategy Game of E3 2006, is scheduled to be available this holiday.

Underlining the Xbox 360 platform strength, Microsoft and Ubisoft today confirmed that “Assassin’s Creed,” the eagerly anticipated action title set in medieval times, is also coming to Xbox 360 day and date with the game’s release on other platforms. “Assassin’s Creed” is a next-generation action-adventure/stealth title from the highly talented and critically acclaimed team that brought gamers “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.” “Assassin’s Creed” will place gamers in the role of a ruthless and skilled Assassin as he tracks his victims through the historical era known as the Crusades.

Last week at the Tokyo Game Show in Japan, “Lost Odyssey” wowed audiences with its incredible graphic style and epic storyline. From famed Japanese developer Hironobu Sakaguchi, “Lost Odyssey” will be shipped in Japan in 2007, and in the U.S. and Europe at a later date.

Few games have generated more interest than “BioShock” (2K Games) in the past year, and Microsoft confirmed today that the highly anticipated first-person shooter will be exclusive to Xbox 360 and Windows when it launches in spring 2007.

Looking into the coming year, X06 showcased a montage video trailer demonstrating the dazzling power and versatility of the Xbox 360 platform, promising gamers a choice of titles and genres coming this spring season, including the Microsoft Game Studios titles “Crackdown™” (Real Time Worlds), “Too Human” (Silicon Knights), “Mass Effect” (BioWare Corp.), and “Forza Motorsport™ 2” (Turn 10). In addition to these titles from Microsoft Game Studios, games from today’s leading publishers round out what is already a robust library of offerings for the Xbox 360 platform, including “John Woo Presents Stranglehold” (Midway), “Lost Planet: Extreme Condition” (Capcom) and “Pro Evolution Soccer 6” (Konami).

Microsoft underscored the continued momentum behind Xbox 360 with more than 5 million consoles sold since launch, the fastest console launch ever. Microsoft remains on track to deliver 10 million consoles worldwide, with a library of 160 games, by end of year. The Xbox Live community continues to grow and is on track to double in size to 6 million gamers by June 2007. Those numbers are supported by the most impressive number of all: Xbox 360 is now available in more than 30 countries since the console launched last November. By the end of this year, Xbox 360 will launch in even more countries, including South Africa and in Europe where plans are set in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

Microsoft also provided attendees with an update on Games for Windows and announced several exciting new Games for Windows titles, including “Bioshock” and “Marvel Universe Online.” Starting this September with “LEGO® Star Wars® II: The Original Trilogy” from LucasArts and “Company of Heroes” from THQ, games will carry the Games for Windows branding after meeting a set of technical guidelines designed to provide consumers with a consistent, reliable gaming experience on Windows XP and Windows Vista. The guidelines include easier game installation, improved reliability and support for key Windows Vista features such as the Games Explorer and Parental Controls. They will also support wide-screen gaming, will launch from within Windows Media® Center, be compatible with 64-bit consumer versions of Windows, and will support the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows (for games that enable gamepads).

Attendees were given a glimpse of the exciting upcoming Games for Windows titles including “Hellgate: London” (NAMCO BANDAI Games), ”Rail Simulator” (Electronic Arts) and “Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures” (Eidos/Funcom), as well as Microsoft Game Studios titles “Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs,” “Alan Wake,” “Zoo Tycoon® 2: Marine Mania®,” “Flight Simulator X,” “Shadowrun™,” “Halo 2” for Windows Vista and the newly named “Marvel Universe Online,” a massively multiplayer online game for Xbox 360 and Windows Vista from Cryptic Studios.

About Xbox 360
Xbox 360 is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox Live online gaming network, and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 is expected to have a catalog of 160 high-definition games by the end of 2006 and to be available in nearly 40 countries by the end of 2007. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

About Xbox Live
Xbox Live is the first and only unified online entertainment network seamlessly integrated throughout the entire console experience, making it easy for people to find the friends, games and entertainment they want from the moment they power on their Xbox 360 system. Xbox Live connects millions of members across nearly 25 countries to enjoy hundreds of multiplayer games, downloadable games via Xbox Live Arcade, free and premium playable game demos, music videos, and movie trailers, as well as new game levels, characters and vehicles for all their favorite retail games. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-us/live.

About HD DVD
Introducing HD DVD — The Look and Sound of Perfect — With up to 1080p screen resolution and 7.1 surround sound, HD DVD is the final step in perfecting your High Def entertainment experience. Learn more at www.thelookandsoundofperfect.com.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

* Actual retail price may vary.

Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live, Halo, Age of Empires, Windows, Project Gotham Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, Rare, Windows Vista, Viva Pinata, Crackdown, Forza Motorsport, Windows Media, Zoo Tycoon, Marine Mania and Shadowrun are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. or Rare Ltd. in the United States and/or other countries.

Rare Ltd. is a subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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