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Wednesday March 14, 2007 4:57 pm

Games For Windows Live Service Coming May 8

LiveMicrosoft’s Games for Windows – Live service will be launching on May 8th, along with the launch of Halo 2 for Windows Vista. Microsoft also confirmed the pricing for the Silver and Gold tiers for the online service; like its Xbox Live sister, the Silver tier is free while the Gold level costs $49.95 per year. There is less of a differentiating factor between the two levels than on Xbox Live. While Xbox Live silver users have no online gaming support, Games for Windows – Live Gold level members will get access to friends lists and PC multiplayer gaming only. The Gold level will basically add more comprehensive matchmaking and cross-platform gameplay.

Microsoft announced three titles that will be supporting Games for Windows – Live; Halo 2, Shadowrun, and UNO. With only Halo 2 promised at launch, its hard to recommend that PC gamers without an Xbox Live Gold account already pay out the money for the full fledged service, particularly since Halo 2 won’t support cross-platform play. Of course, this will somewhat depend on how well developed a matchmaking service the game offers at the Gold tier. Still, the slate of games promised for this online service is really short right now; it almost feels like the ideal target customer for this is a current Xbox Live Gold member with an Xbox 360 that also has a decent gaming machine running Vista.

Microsoft’s full press release continues after the jump.

Microsoft Unites Xbox and PC Gamers With Debut of Games for Windows — LIVE

REDMOND, Wash. — March 14, 2007 — Microsoft 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.

About Games for Windows
Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system in the world for games, delivering the widest range of titles, the most gaming hardware choices, and advanced gaming technology for players of all types. With Windows as the cornerstone, the Games for Windows platform offers publishers and gamers the most enjoyable and innovative gaming experiences available on a PC. More information can be found online at http://www.gamesforwindows.com.

About Microsoft Game Studios
Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game systems, the Windows operating system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows (http://www.microsoft.com/games), including such franchises as “Age of Empires®,” “Flight Simulator” and “Zoo Tycoon®”; Xbox and Xbox 360 (http://www.xbox.com), including such games as “Gears of War” and franchises such as “Halo,” “Fable®,” “Project Gotham Racing®” and “Forza Motorsport™”; and MSN Games (http://www.games.msn.com), the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as “Bejeweled” and “Hexic®.”

About Xbox 360
Xbox 360 is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox LIVE online gaming network and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 has a catalog of more than 160 high-definition games and is available in 37 countries. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.
About Xbox LIVE and Games for Windows – LIVE
These LIVE services for gaming provide the first and a fully comprehensive cross-platform gaming experience, uniting players on Xbox 360 and select Games for Windows titles. These LIVE services make it easy for members to find friends, games and entertainment regardless of their preferred platform. LIVE connects millions of members across 25 countries, allowing them to easily communicate with each other and to enjoy the convenience of a single gamer profile, Gamerscore and Friends List while playing hundreds of multiplayer games. When accessing Xbox LIVE from an Xbox 360, members can download a wide variety of content that includes games via Xbox LIVE Arcade, free and premium playable game demos, music videos, TV shows, and movies as well as new game levels, characters and vehicles for all their favorite retail games. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-us/live and http://www.gamesforwindows.com/en-US/live/aboutLive.aspx.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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Microsoft, Xbox LIVE, Windows, Windows Vista, Xbox, Halo, Shadowrun, Xbox 360, TrueSkill, MSN, Age of Empires, Zoo Tycoon, Fable, Project Gotham Racing, Forza Motorsport and Hexic are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

UNO and associated trademarks and trade dress are owned by, and used under license from, Mattel Inc. © 2005 Mattel Inc. All rights reserved.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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