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Microsoft introduce Xbox

E3 proves the perfect platform for unveiling the future of gaming

Microsoft have used the E3 pedestal as we knew they would, to demonstrate the power of Xbox six months ahead of its arrival in the States. In a press conference at the start of the show, which you can view for yourself at, the company stated plainly when the Xbox would be available in America, roughly how many games would be joining it for launch and a number of new additions to the development fold. Most interesting is the projected release date, November 8th, and the price tag of $299. Most had expected the console to air in the USA sometime in October. At current estimates it runs the risk of having to compete directly with the Nintendo GameCube and the freshly reduced Sony PlayStation 2. Although the Xbox's catalogue of games will be pretty vast for an upstart (15-20 at launch according to the press conference), Sony's console will be swimming in quality titles by then, and Nintendo's will not only cost less but also launch with powerful brands like Mario to Metroid to back it up. Microsoft and Sony lack a Mario-like talisman upon which to sell their consoles - some say this makes GameCube more of a games console than the others - but Microsoft certainly won't have to sweat about that. A number of companies on the floor at E3 made announcements today, including Electronic Arts, who while backing Sony have pledged to provide support for GameCube (as reported here last week) and now Xbox with ten titles in the works based on a number of popular sports and action series. Elsewhere Tecmo were demonstrating Dead or Alive 3, which is to be an Xbox exclusive, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 was on display from Neversoft. These are powerful reasons to back Microsoft... Another big part of Microsoft's announcement is the number of online games in development. Acclaim Entertainment Inc., Activision Inc., Artdink Corp., Atlus Company Ltd., Bandai Company Ltd., Capcom, Codemasters, Crave Entertainment Inc., Electronic Arts Inc., Eidos, FOX Interactive Inc., Gathering of Developers, INFOGRAMES Inc., Interplay Entertainment Corp., Konami Company Ltd., LucasArts Entertainment Co., Midway Games Inc., Namco Ltd., Rage Software, Rockstar Games, Sega, Sierra On-Line Inc., Taito Corp., Take-Two Interactive Software Inc, TDK Systems, THQ and Ubisoft are working on online games for Xbox. Sony may have plans for the Internet, but we've seen nothing like this level of high publicity support so far. Microsoft have no intention of supporting anything less than consumer broadband, whereas Sony seem to be giving up on that particular dream. Judging from Microsoft's progress with Windows Media 8, Direct X 8 and Internet Explorer 6, high quality multimedia functions will be available straight off the bat, whilst rivals Sony are busy wrestling with non-Microsoft standards to do the same. We knew all this monopoly stuff would all come in handy some day. Even so, it's a good thing Microsoft do have all those marketing dollars, because Sony will be in a very strong position come yuletide. Despite trailing somewhat (and we're sorry, but they are) in the Internet war, Sony's console will cost significantly less - almost half when you factor in the cost of the (some say mandatory) remote control at $30, a few games and DVDs and an extra controller, compared to low cost third party peripherals and memory devices that are springing up for PS2. In fact, Sony's announcements about hard disks, XGA LCD panels and the like pre-E3 will have been aimed directly at stunting possible Xbox buyers. Perhaps their aim is to create an almost identical multimedia entertainment system to do exactly what Xbox does using their strategic relationships with AOL, Macromedia, RealNetworks and even Be. After all, if the Xbox only does what PlayStation 2 does when the time comes, the argument will be one of software, and perhaps, just maybe, with a few killer apps like Onimusha on the way, Sony can pull something together worth competing with and not just marketing above. Related Feature - Sony take a big byte

Source - E3