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Consumer Beta A Success, Setting The Scene For Open Test Drive In UK, France and Germany
26th November 2002 - As the Xbox™ Live™ consumer beta draws to a close, thousands of gamers in the UK, France and Germany have had the chance to experience the fun and excitement of the only comprehensive online game service fully dedicated to fast-action, always-connected broadband gaming experiences. And now the fun really begins, as the Xbox Live Test Drive starts its engine and gets ready for the green light on 30th November.

This month Live has brought a passionate community of Xbox gamers online, playing great games like Whacked!TM (Microsoft Game Studios) and MotoGP (THQ) with other beta testers. These Live pioneers have used the service to find their friends easily; talk to other players during game play through the Xbox Communicator headset; create a special Gamertag that is exclusively theirs and will stay with them as long as they’re playing Live; and start building their legend online.

Now all Xbox gamers with a broadband connection in the UK, France and Germany are invited to join the fun - Xbox Live is designed to work on most broadband services. In addition, Xbox is working with BT Openworld, NTL, Telewest Broadband, Noos and Wanadoo in the UK and France to bring specific broadband offers to gamers this Christmas - visit xbox.com/live for more information on getting connected.

Gamers can participate in the Xbox Live Test Drive (30th November 2002 – 13th March 2003), by ordering a special Test Drive starter pack online at http://www.xbox.com/uk/live/now (for UK); (for Germany) and (for France). The starter packs, which gamers can order from 30th November until 14th February as long as stocks last, include all the software needed to get playing, plus the Xbox Communicator headset and a twelve-month subscription to the Live service. The benefits to getting in early are compelling - first choice of Gamertags, bragging rights over your friends, and best of all, free months of Live. The included one-year subscription to Xbox Live doesn’t start counting down until March, meaning that gamers will get up to three and a half month’s play for free.

Living the Live Experience
“Clearly, gamers love Xbox Live,” said Michel Cassius, European Director of Xbox platform. “The benefits of Xbox Live’s service-led approach, as opposed to an add-on peripheral approach, mean that the gamer’s experience is a better, smoother one – no lag associated with narrowband, no cheating and hacking because of a decentralised approach, and no individual logins or bills for each game. We’re excited that Xbox Live has captured the imagination of so many, so early on.”

Responses from gamers on the Xbox Live beta test have been phenomenal:
· "The only service of all three consoles (and PCs too) that's fast, fun and easy­to­use straight out the box - Xbox Live batters Sony and Nintendo's offerings senseless."

· “Signing up was quick and easy for Xbox Live (10 minutes). I quickly slipped into a game, there are hundreds of challenges available right away and all my stats are put onto a huge scoreboard so I can see just how good or bad I really am.”

· “I was mostly surprised by the great quality of the servers. It (almost) never lagged, even with many players and extensive use of the Communicators. And the Communicators themselves are simply genius. Easy to customise, brilliant in use, and very helpful in all the games!”

· “The best game I have played is MotoGP, this has become the best racing game of all time with the simple inclusion of the Xbox Live service. I have been playing this non-stop. The thing that makes this fantastic is the ability to race 16 other people across the world, all at the same time, with no Lag and with everybody commenting on the crashes and pile -ups that happen, with evil laughter from some and genuine apologies from others.”

· “Easy to set up - even easier to use. Absolutely perfectly integrated into the Xbox experience. No Lag, no crashes and crystal clear chatting with players across the globe.”

The Games
Xbox Live test Drivers will have no shortage of top-quality games to play. The starter pack includes special versions of Whacked! and MotoGP, and there will be a host of fantastic games at retail available for Live play when the Test Drive kicks off, including:

· Unreal Championship (Infogrames): “The best-looking blast to date heads exclusively to Xbox,” said gaming press, and it’s going online via Xbox Live. Unreal Championship offers explosive gameplay and amazing graphics, and offers it online via Xbox Live – it’s an experience action addicts have been craving.

· MechAssault (Microsoft Game Studios): “Life as a 100-foot-tall mech robot is great fun,” said gaming press, and it’s even more fun when battling other 100-foot-tall mech robots via Xbox Live. MechAssault is a 3rd-person action/shooter, where environments are not only fully destructible, they're your weapons.

· Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (Ubi Soft): Ghost Recon creates realistic game play experiences that show off Xbox Live to the max. Gamers can talk to one another and plan out strategies or develop manoeuvres using the Xbox Communicator, tackle missions co-operatively, or challenge and advance in rank as they complete their missions. The result is a true-to-life battlefield experience that will leave gamers winded from non-stop combat action

· MotoGP: Online Demo (THQ): Sporting gorgeous graphics and true-to-life motorcycle racing action, MotoGP hits Xbox Live with a barrage of fast, cut-throat racing action. Talk trash with up to 15 other racers as you work you way up the ranks of racing gods.

· Whacked!(Microsoft Game Studios): Whacked! is a frenzied, free-for-all arena combat game between twisted ‘toon-type characters competing on the freakiest game show ever. Players need to sabotage one another through a variety of weapons and power-ups to steal opponents’ resources. With 6 different game modes and Xbox Live support, Whacked! delivers a non-stop ‘toon thrashing experience.

This is just the start of a great portfolio of games for Live, 2003 will see the launch of more than 50 Xbox Live-enabled games, including Halo 2, CounterStrike, Star Wars: Galaxies, Capcom vs SNK 2 EO and Project Gotham Racing 2. More than 60 game publishers are currently working on Xbox Live-enabled games.