Microsoft Announces Details for Xbox HD DVD

Microsoft has expanded on its plans to launch an HD DVD drive for its Xbox 360 console to markets in North America and Europe, the company said at its X06 gaming event in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday.

The drive will be available in mid-November in North America, the UK, France, and Germany, and will cost about $200.

The add-on drive was first announced in Japan last week ahead of the annual Tokyo Games Show and Microsoft said it would hit Japanese retail shelves starting November 22 and cost $168.

Plans to launch the drive in other markets haven't been announced yet although there is likely to be little demand from consumers in other countries at present. HD DVD is only just getting off the ground in major markets and hasn't been launched in large parts of the world.

With the drive Xbox 360 owners will be able to watch high-definition HD DVD movies on their television through the console. Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 just under a year ago with a standard DVD drive and in adding the HD DVD option is making its console more competitive with Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 3, which will go on sale in Japan and North America in November and which features a drive for the rival Blu-ray Disc format.

Game Announcements

At the same event Microsoft also said it is partnering with Academy Award-winning writer, director, and producer Peter Jackson. Jackson, best known for his adaptations of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, will make two interactive entertainment series exclusively for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. The first will be a collaborative effort with Bungie Studios to create a further chapter in the Halo series and the second will see a new game created.

Other gaming software announcements included Halo Wars, a real-time strategy game based on Halo; a new title in the Splinter Cell series that will be exclusive to Xbox 360; BioShock, a first-person shooter exclusively on Xbox 360 and Windows; Project Gotham Racing 4, the latest in the car racing series; a Banjo-Kazooie game for the Xbox 360; and Marvel Universe Online, a new multiplayer online game.

Microsoft also said that Doom is now available in the Xbox Live online marketplace and that Sensible World of Soccer, based on an Amiga title from 1994, will soon be available through the online game download service.

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