Xbox Live downtime planned

In preparation for 360 launch.

Microsoft has announced a planned single day closure of its online console gaming service Xbox Live and the associated Xbox.com website in order to make changes in preparation for the Xbox 360 launch.

Scheduled for October 24th, with full services to be resumed the following day, the company has confirmed that a number of enhancements and additional community and global ranking functionality will launch to coincide with the launch of its next generation console.

Changes include the addition of Xbox Live Marketplace, and an 'achievements' record system, which catalogues every player's special accomplishments in every Xbox 360 game played, although all new additions will be invisible to gamers until the Xbox 360's US launch date on November 22nd.

The achievements records will be visible on the Xbox.com website, also scheduled for down-time on the 24th, in a new site area called 'My Xbox'. Records will be attached to the personal gamer card for every customer, which can be viewed via the website or the Xbox Live interface.

Players will be encouraged to check up on the stats of other players, and the gamer card info will be incorporated into a number of different Microsoft websites, including MSN spaces and the official Xbox forums.

Community gaming and competition is an integral part of Microsoft's focus for the new console, which it hopes will reach a much wider audience than traditional hardcore gamers.

The Xbox 360 will launch in three continents over a matter of weeks, beginning in the US on November 22nd, heading to Europe on December 2nd and Japan on December 10th. The tri-continent console hardware launch is a first for the industry.

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