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Xbox Live comes to the land of the Rising Sun

by Thomas on June 11, 2002 @ 6:31 p.m. PDT

In an effort to boost sales of its Xbox video game console, Microsoft Corp. is offering a one-year subscription to its online gaming service for 6,800 yen ($55) in Japan. The starter package for Xbox Live, a service planned for North America, Europe and Japan this fall, will also include the online game Phantasy Star Online from Japanese game-maker Sega Corp.

In the United States, Microsoft's introductory offer for a year's subscription to Xbox Live costs $49.00.

Xbox trails Sony Corp's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Co.'s GameCube in worldwide sales, but online gaming is one area the more powerful Xbox has a chance to one-up its rivals.

Thirty-nine software makers are now planning 47 online games for the Xbox in Japan, Microsoft said.

Sony started selling online gaming adapters for the PlayStation 2 in Japan in May. The Japanese electronics giant has one online game out in Japan and about 30 more are in the works, according to Sony Computer Entertainment in Tokyo. It will launch online gaming in the United States this summer, with about 10 online games available at that time.

Nintendo plans to sell adapters to connect GameCube to the Internet later this year in Japan and the United States, but it is holding off on developing its own online games, judging them as still limited in appeal. Nintendo's Mario and Pokemon games tend to appeal to youngsters and less to the hard-core game crowd that Xbox targets.

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