Going Live

Going Live
The fact that Xbox Live users have already topped the six million mark might lead you to believe that Microsoft’s online service has reached the pinnacle of its popularity. But with the launch of Games For Windows Live this month, the Seattle giant is confident of giving its now cross-platform games service a real shot in the arm.

The service goes ‘Live’ with the release of Halo 2 on PC on May 18th. It might be a console port, but you can forgive Microsoft for being optimistic that the title will enjoy the same success as major new triple-A product.

When the classic FPS hits shelves, it will represent the first time that gamers can take on 360 owners of the same game via their computer. Director of global marketing for Games For Windows Kevin Unangst explains: “PC players need a better online experience. MMOs are great, but they don’t offer that opportunity to have a safe, friendly and, above all, easy social network within a game like we do with our Live service.”

“This summer is the big holiday that we have got to hit. With Vista being on the vast majority of the new PCs and the line-up of games coming from Microsoft and our publishing partners, the buzz is already there. There is no doubt that when Games For Windows Live hits the UK with Halo 2, it will blow the doors open on a really big opportunity for PC gaming.”

PC gaming has lost revenues dramatically year-on-year since 2000. But Microsoft is banking a worthwhile investment on the hope that the impact of Vista and Windows Live in the UK will follow the US’ lead – and halt the sector’s decline. A wide-scale advertising campaign has been engineered to capture the attention of lapsed or traditional non-gamers in particular.

“We have also invested in a major advertising campaign over here, and you’ll probably see most of it in print and online,” continues Unangst. “You will be able to see the Games For Windows brand show up on television as great games like Age Of Conan and Crysis come out. We’re keen to share that branding presence with console titles.

“We’ve got to reach the folks who either were a gamer at one time or just play a little bit. Out of 200 million gamers worldwide, there’s about 65 million who consider themselves to be core gamers – people that game a couple of hours a week. “Our advertising campaign will be aiming to reach these people, and take away the intimidation of playing a full ‘console style’ game.

“It will convince people that interactive entertainment on PC is better now – and that anyone interested in gaming should go check it out.”

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