Xbox Live Subscriptions Double Expectations

REDMOND, Wash. – Jan. 7, 2003 – Microsoft Corp. today released new data that indicates playing video games online via the Xbox Live TM service is quickly becoming the evening activity of choice for throngs of entertainment thrill seekers. Since the introduction of Xbox Live less than 60 days ago, more than 250,000 starter kits have been sold – double original sales expectations. The starter kit has been selling out in most locations in North America. According to data released by NPD Group Inc., in the first month of availability, Xbox Live Starter Kits outsold by 86 percent the number of PlayStation 2 Network Adapters Sony sold in its first month.* Gamers have flocked to the world’s first high-speed video gaming arena fully dedicated to online gaming, spending an average of 2.5 hours per day playing online.

It’s not just Xbox Live that is exciting gamers around the world. According to the same NPD Group Inc. data, Xbox TM achieved its best month of the year for console sales in November 2002. As reported last month by Microsoft, Xbox reached a fever pitch this holiday season, widening the gap between Xbox and rival Nintendo GameCube, while demonstrating that Xbox delivers a superior gaming alternative to Sony PlayStation 2.

“The instant popularity of Xbox Live, combined with a successful holiday season for Xbox around the world, is concrete evidence that Xbox is securely in the No. 2 position in this industry,” said Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer at Microsoft. “Already, more than a quarter of a million people have discovered the thrill of Xbox Live, and we expect exciting growth over the next several months as these passionate endorsers share their experiences with friends and family.”

Xbox Live, which launched in the United States Nov. 15, 2002, allows gamers to play multiplayer Xbox Live games with other gamers everywhere on the Internet via a high-speed 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, negating the need to buy additional, costly console peripherals or upgrades. Xbox Live enables gamers to find their friends easily; talk to other players during gameplay through the Xbox Communicator headset; download current statistics, new levels and characters to their Xbox hard drive; and play online – all features exclusive to Xbox Live.

Whether playing Xbox online or off, gamers can choose from a variety of best-selling titles. According to Ubi Soft Entertainment, in North America alone, gamers snatched up nearly a million copies of Tom Clancy’s “Splinter Cell” in November and December, catapulting this Xbox holiday exclusive to the top of the Xbox video game sales charts. Illustrating the intrinsic allure of Xbox Live, game titles with Xbox Live capability (including downloadable content) led holiday sales. Three of the four best-selling Xbox titles are all Live-enabled. According to the latest data from NPD Group Inc., “MechAssault TM ” from Microsoft Game Studios, Tom Clancy’s “Ghost Recon” from Ubi Soft and “Unreal Championship” from Infogrames all attached at over 80 percent to the Xbox Live Starter Kit.*

“It’s unbelievable. With Xbox Live I can play games and talk to my friends all across the country,” said Xbox Live gamer Michael Aguirre, age 21, from Fresno, Calif. “It’s an entirely new way to hang out. I can’t imagine ever going back to playing alone. Even my mom has tried it!”