NEWS - Monday, May 16, 2005

E3 2005: 360 Hits All Cylinders

E3 2005 News Conference: Microsoft’s 360 Hits All Cylinders Square Enix commits to Xbox 360; limited backward compatibility confirmed; full EA support, 160 Xbox 360 titles in development. First details. May 16, 2005 - Microsoft launched yet another cannonball into the looming next generation battlefield with huge commitments and by confirming major deals to secure the potential lead it needs to foist competitor Sony Computer Entertainment from its leading market position. At its pre-E3 new conference, Microsoft confirmed three major milestones: Japanese RPG giant Square Enix will create role-playing games for Xbox 360, starting with Final Fantasy XI with full Xbox Live compatibility. The game’s content will remain the same, but obviously the graphics will see immense changes and improvements. Additional Square Enix games will follow. "We’re honored that Square Enix will make games like Final Fantasy XI for the millions of Xbox fans who have anticipated this historical moment for quite some time," said Robbie Bach, senior vice president and chief Xbox officer in the Home and Entertainment Division at Microsoft. "Together, we will chart a new course for the future of video game entertainment." "Xbox has become a major force in video-game innovation, and we couldn’t be more captivated by the Xbox 360 canvas," said Yoichi Wada, president of Square Enix. "As the world’s first cross-platform online game with more than 500,000 users, ’FINAL FANTASY XI’ will take advantage of the incredible power of the Xbox 360 platform, immersing gamers in spellbinding stories that come to life in high definition and through collaborative online gameplay." Xbox 360 officially will be backward compatible with the prior system’s top-selling games, said Microsoft’s Vice President Peter Moore. Microsoft will pick and choose only the most popular Xbox titles from its huge backlist of games and will most likely use emulator software for those limited titles. Microsoft and Electronic Arts will continue their working relationship into the future with the largest commitment of games at launch in console history. In development for Xbox 360 are Need For Speed: Most Wanted, The Godfather The Game, Madden NFL 2006, NBA Live 2006, Tiger Woods PGA Golf 2006, FIFA Soccer 2006, and more. EA currently has 25 games in development for Xbox 360, with more to come. Microsoft ’s first- and second-party development teams are running full force with Epic Game’s Gears of War, Rare’s Kameo: Elements of Power and Perfect Dark Zero, MGS’s Project Gotham Racing 3, Phantagram’s Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes, Mistwalker’s Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, and Q Entertainment’s Ninety-Night Nights. Gamers will also be able to experience a host of games from third-party publishers, including Call of Duty 2, Condemned: Criminal Origins, Dead or Alive 4, Dead Rising, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Full Auto, Saint’s Row, Test Drive, and Quake IV. There are more than 160 in development for Xbox 360 from first-, second-, and third-party teams. Namco, Konami and Capcom (Dead Rising) are officially supporting the console as well. Microsoft plans to launch its console with between 25 to 40 Xbox 360 games using a launch window that spans the first 90 days from launch. Neither the launch date and nor the price were revealed. Following these three pillars of huge import, Microsoft balanced its Xbox 360 news with strong support for the Xbox 1. Moore announced Microsoft will have 2 million Xbox Live Subscribers by fiscal year end (June). The system will have more than 300 multiplayer titles by year’s end, and 200 titles in full on the system by end of the year, with hundreds more in development for 2006. Games such as Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, Star Wars Battlefront II and Burnout Revenge will appear on Xbox Live. These are just the first details from Microsoft’s news conference. So don’t fret, we’ll have more details very, very soon.

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