XBox Kick Starts Online Console Gaming

XBox Kick Starts Online Console Gaming

Microsoft announced that their online gaming service for the XBox console, XBox Live, will launch on November 15 in the US.
The Starter Kit will be available for USD 49.95 and will include a game, a headset for voice communication and a years worth of access. As is the case with most consoles the success of the venture depends, mainly, on the content that will be available for the service. Microsoft claim they will have six games available upon XBox Live's launch with plans to have a total of 16, online games, by the end of the year.
Beta testing of the service, by about 10,000 users, is set to begin at the end of this month and those interested can register for that on the official XBox site.

According to David Hufford, XBox spokesman, the service has been designed for a large number of users and will be more than sufficient for the initial wave of subscribers. We will definitely be able to support multiples of what we bring in on day one, he said. Hufford also said that there will be enough starter kits available from Microsoft for the launch but that their market availability will rely heavily on retailer interest.

Microsoft's XBox is set then to become the first console to bring online content to the US, with rivals SOny and Nintendo also working on their own online projects. Of the two Sony have announced that they expect to launch a similar service before the end of this year, while Nintendo have not yet set a time schedule for their own efforts.
Of the three competitors, XBox is the only console that comes ready for broadband connection, the other two needing some form of adaptor in order to become online ready.
This built-in network adaptor of the XBox has its benefits but also restricts its online use to broadband. Both Sony and Nintendo plan to make their online service available through a traditional dial-up connection. Sony plans to offer an adaptor covering both types of connection while Nintendo will offer two different ones for each connection type.

Although this does seem a limiting problem for XBox, many argue that considering todays games, a normal dial-up connection cannot handle the necessary information fast enough in order to be of any practical use to the gamer.

With a recent survey by the Interactive Digital Software Association, showing that 31 percent of gamers play online games, the launch of these console online services are bound to be met with initial enthusiasm. Their continued success however, will lie with the game developers ability to create exciting and innovating content for those services.