Microsoft Expands Xbox Live in Asia

Microsoft Corp said on Thursday it would kick off its Xbox Live online gaming service in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore in April, making inroads into Asian markets dominated by Sony's PlayStation 2 console. The launch in some of Asia's most Internet-wired regions plays to the strength of the Xbox hardware, which, unlike its competitor, comes ready for online play right out of the box. "People can utilize their broadband connection at home, which is really a huge advantage for Asia, given that the penetration of broadband in homes throughout Asia is leading the world," Alan Bowman, general manager of Microsoft's Xbox business in Asia, told Reuters in an interview.

XBox Live, which was launched in the United States in November 2001, allows gamers to compete against other XBox owners via Internet connections. For example, a gamer from Japan could dogfight a competitor from the UK in the air combat title 'Crimson Skies', if both players owned the game and subscribed to the Live service. April's roll-out in the three Asian centers would follow Xbox Live's October 30 launch in South Korea, which has the world's highest broadband Internet penetration. Bowman said the service had since gained 6,500 subscribers in Korea. The subscription price for the new centers will be announced nearer the launch. A starter kit in the United States costs $70 for a year.

News source: Reuters

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