From the press release:
Starting on Wednesday, April 21st at 6 a.m., Xbox Live servers will be offline for as long as 24 hours while new features are added. Once back online, gamers will be able to send Voice Messages with their friend and game invites to other gamers, further personalizing their online gaming experience. Voice Messages are just one of several new upcoming features on gamers’ wish lists worldwide and further validates Xbox Live as the innovation leader in the online gaming category.
Additionally, game developers are currently being provided with new Live features that, when incorporated into their games, will afford gamers the following benefits:
- Teams: Gamers will be able to easily form teams and notify them of matches, strategies and even upcoming competitions.
- Competitions: Empowers gamers to easily create their own tournaments while in-game; as easy as creating, inviting and playing for all their favorite games across any game genre.
- Online Content Swapping: Title managed online storage allows gamers to create and share mottos, emblems, and custom content and create and update maps, rosters, and other environment data.
- Level Playing Field Technology: New arbitration and reliability technologies reduce players’ ability to cheat online, while increasing reliability ratings for all players and penalizing actions like disconnects during games.
Many of these new features are expected to debut later this year with new Xbox Live titles. By this time next month, there will be more than 100 Xbox Live-enabled titles available to consumers, the most available online titles on any video games platform.
In addition to the new Xbox Live features, Microsoft Corp. also announced the availability of a new three-month subscription Xbox Live Starter Kit, introducing an already rapidly growing online community with a more broad and diverse pool of gamers. The new Starter Kit offers consumers a new, more accessible, three-month subscription to Xbox Live, an Xbox Live Communicator and game demos of “MechAssault” (Microsoft Game Studios) and “Moto GP” (THQ.) The new three-month Xbox Live Starter Kit will be available for $39.99.
Next week, the 12-month Xbox Live Starter Kit will be updated and packaged with a 12-month subscription to Xbox Live, an Xbox Live Communicator and a full version of the award-winning “Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge,” from Microsoft Game Studios. “Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge” launched in the fall of 2003 to glowing reviews highlighting the software’s stunning graphics and superior Xbox Live gameplay. The standard Xbox Live Starter Kit is available at $69.99.
While the Xbox Live community is growing in depth, it is also expanding in breadth as well, with launches in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Mexico and New Zealand scheduled for next week. The Xbox Live community has 750,000 subscribers and will be in 24 countries by the end of April.
Xbox Live, which launched in the United States Nov. 15, 2002, allows gamers to play multiplayer Xbox games with other gamers worldwide via a broadband connection. With a built-in hard drive and Ethernet port, the Xbox console is the only video game system built from the ground up for online gaming. Xbox Live enables gamers to easily find their friends; talk to other players during gameplay through the Xbox Communicator headset; download current statistics and new levels and characters to their Xbox hard drive; and play online — all exclusive features to Xbox Live.