Leading American publishers Electronic Arts and Activision have downplayed the importance of online gaming to the current generation of consoles. Speaking at E3, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick suggested that it would only really come into its own four or five years from now. "There's not enough of a broadband infrastructure in the US today to support it", he added, which doesn't bode well for Europe, as America has generally been seen to be a year or two ahead in terms of broadband take-up. Even more scathing was the prognosis on Microsoft's Xbox Live service, which has run into criticism from some publishers due to its closed nature, with Microsoft apparently insisting that everything is handled through their own pay-to-play servers. It doesn't help that Microsoft only has a fraction of the installed base that PlayStation 2 currently has, leading EA marketing VP Frank Gibeau to comment that this "just did not make it an opportunity we wanted to chase". EA recently revealed that they wouldn't be releasing any Xbox Live games this year, with negotiations on possible future support still on-going. "There's a whole slate of issues we're working with Microsoft on", according to Gibeau. For his part, Bobby Kotick suggested that "nobody's signed up for Xbox Live", although that's something of an exaggeration. Aside from their own first party titles, Microsoft already have support from Ubi Soft (Splinter Cell), Lucas Arts (Star Wars Galaxies), Sega (Phantasy Star Online) and Take 2 (Serious Sam) amongst others, and even Activision have at least one title (the uninspiring Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder 2) heading to the service, according to Microsoft's press release. Is online gaming really the future, and can any of the current generation of consoles make it take off in a big way? It's going to be an interesting few years... Related Feature - You Suck
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