Microsoft Reveals Xbox Online Service

Microsoft has announced its online strategy for the Xbox, revealing an subscription-based online service called Xbox Live, which will launch in North America, Europe, and Japan this fall.
The Xbox Live service will debut at the tentative price of $49.95 per year, and will let people play online and download content to the Xbox hard drive. Microsoft expects to have over 50 online games available for the Xbox by the end of 2003, including Star Wars Galaxies, Halo and Project Gotham Racing. Microsoft said it is building four data centers to support the online service, which will be located in Seattle and Tukwila, WA, Tokyo and London. Unlike Sony's strategy of allowing publishers to host online games on their own servers, Microsoft will manage the hosting, networking, security and billing. Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer, said that Microsoft will invest $2 billion on the Xbox over the next five years, most of which will be earmarked for developing the console's online gaming services. To date, Microsoft has sold about 1.8 million units of the machine.

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