Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Microsoft's world domination strategy revealed -- and it's good

We know that Nintendo's new Wii unit and Sony's $499 to $549 PS3 are coming to market this year. But by the time they do, Microsoft boss Bill Gates said his Xbox 360 system will have a 10 million unit head start.

At the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Gates also announced plans this week to connect millions of Xbox 360 gamers with hundreds of millions of Windows-based PC and mobile gamers from around the world through the Xbox Live online entertainment network.

Dubbed “Live Anywhere,” the initiative puts gamers at the center of a always-on world where their digital identities, games, friends and digital entertainment are always accessible through the familiar Xbox Live interface, regardless of location or device. The plan also clears the way for groundbreaking cross-platform gameplay scenarios, with participants using Windows-based PCs, mobile phones and Xbox 360 consoles to play together simultaneously.

“By opening the Xbox Live entertainment network to the entire universe of Windows and mobile gamers, we’re creating unparalleled gameplay opportunities that will drive incredible growth of the online community,” said Gates. “Our vision is to deliver consistent, compelling experiences that make it easy for consumers to jump in and play, from any device at any time. It’s a vision that only Microsoft can deliver.”

If Microsoft is able to pull this off well, it would have a huge advantage on the competition. Essentially your PC could become an extension of your 360.

By this time next year, Microsoft expects more than 6 million gamers to be connected to Xbox Live. Currently, there are mor than 25 million casual gamers playing on MSN Messenger and MSN Games.

Gates plans to allow all of them to access Xbox Live this winter via Microsoft's new Vista operating system. Now, you know you had to get new software for this, right?

  • Microsoft plans to have 160 Xbox 360 titles available by years end. Gates dazzled the crowd with an initial look at “Halo 3,” the sequel to the Halo 2, which did more than $125 million in sales.

    In this third chapter of the “Halo” trilogy, Master Chief returns to finish the fight, bringing the epic conflict between the Covenant, the Flood and the entire human race to a dramatic, pulse-pounding climax.
  • Microsoft’s mobile offering will enable a true mobile gaming ecosystem, providing consumers with the opportunity to try games before they buy, store catalogs of the hottest bite-sized games locally on their phones, post game achievements and scores for others to see and most importantly, provide mobile gamers access to cross-platform gaming communities at any time, from any location.

  • The first Hip-Hop Gaming League championships will be held Saturday at Club Element in Hollywood. Rapper Snoop Dogg will host the event, which will feature two league semifinal matches, a championship and a VIP exhibition tournament.

All matches will be played on specially modded Xbox 360s.

If you're in Hollywood, look for red carpet arrivals to begin at 3 p.m. with folks like Snoop, FHM model Vida Guerra and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez. If you're not out west, MTV2 is scheduled to carry the proceedings at a later date to be announced.

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