Microsoft Unites Xbox and PC GamersMicrosoft Corp. today announced the extension of the Xbox LIVE® games and entertainment network to the Windows® platform, bringing together the most popular online console game service with the most popular games platform in the world. Debuting on May 8, 2007, with the launch of the Windows Vista™ version of the Xbox® blockbuster “Halo® 2,” Games for Windows — LIVE will connect Windows gamers to over six million gamers already in the Xbox LIVE community. Then, launching in June, “Shadowrun™” will for the first time connect Windows gamers with Xbox 360™ players in cross-platform matches using a single service. “UNO®,” releasing later in 2007, will also support cross-platform play between Windows and Xbox 360. The launch of Games for Windows — LIVE marks a major expansion of the Xbox LIVE service across multiple platforms, uniting gamers with a single identity, a single gamertag, a single friends list and a single list of achievements attainable on the Xbox 360 and a Windows-based PC. Games for Windows — LIVE gamers will be able to easily find and play supported titles online with their friends across a Windows computer or an Xbox 360. As a unified service with Xbox LIVE, Games for Windows — LIVE will be available in every country and region supported today by Xbox LIVE. “Five years ago, we began building a service that now defines the bar for online gameplay,” said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business in the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “The benefits of expanding Xbox LIVE to Games for Windows titles is twofold: We’re bringing together two communities that share a passion for playing online games, and we’re enhancing the online experience for PC gamers who have long desired seamless game and voice connectivity — it’s a win for everyone.” Members of Xbox LIVE automatically receive the functionality of Games for Windows — LIVE, using the same gamertag and friends list at no additional cost. For a single, unified service, the pricing of the LIVE services across both Xbox and Games for Windows is identical. In addition, Games for Windows — LIVE introduces the best of Xbox LIVE functionality to please PC gamers, such as in-game voice chat, integrated achievements and dedicated servers. The offering of both Silver and Gold memberships will remain in place for gamers on the Xbox 360 and Windows PC. There is no cost associated with signing up for a Silver membership. Gold memberships will deliver the premium online network experience for $49.95 (U.S.) per year. Current Xbox LIVE Gold members will automatically have access to Gold features on Games for Windows — LIVE titles. Silver Membership Features • Single gamertag • Common gamer profile • Common gamerscore • Single player achievements • Private chat via text and voice • Common friends list and online presence • PC only multiplayer including browsing a list of active PC games Gold Membership Features • All Silver membership features • Multiplayer matchmaking with friends • TrueSkill™ matchmaking • Multiplayer achievements • Cross-platform gameplay These features of the LIVE services will enable gamers to communicate online and play supported games across both of Microsoft’s gaming platforms, bringing more players and their friends together to connect in new and exciting ways. The following games make up the first wave of titles to support the Games for Windows — LIVE service: “Halo 2” for Windows Vista (Microsoft® Game Studios). Release date: May 8, 2007. The highly anticipated title brings Master Chief to Windows Vista and is the first title to incorporate the new Games for Windows — LIVE service. Windows Vista gamers will be able to challenge each other in PC-to-PC multiplayer matches and earn achievements for the first time in the “Halo” franchise, as well as communicate via voice or text with other Xbox LIVE or Games for Windows — LIVE members. The visually enhanced classic includes an all-new Map Editor, which will allow for new content and greater game customization. “Halo 2” will be playable with mouse and keyboard or the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows. “Shadowrun” (Microsoft Game Studios). Release date: June 2007. The intense first-person shooter will let gamers rewrite the rules of engagement as they vie for supremacy in an experience that rewards cleverness, cunning and split-second improvisation through a unique combination of modern weapons, ancient magic and advanced technology. The first title to connect both Windows Vista and Xbox 360 gamers in cross-platform competition will let up to 16 players battle online. Cross-platform play will require Gold level membership. More information can be found at http://www.shadowrun.com. “UNO®” (Carbonated Games/Mattel Inc.). Release date: 2007. The classic party card game that’s a No. 1 hit on Xbox LIVE Arcade is also coming to Windows Vista and Games for Windows — LIVE. Gamers will be able to compete against three other players on the Xbox 360 or Windows Vista platforms to match colors and symbols and be the first to play every single card in this award-winning game. For gameplay today, “UNO®” is currently available on MSN® Games, Messenger Games and Xbox LIVE Arcade.