Classic Arcade Games Make a Comeback on Xbox

LAS VEGAS – Jan. 8, 2010 – At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced the spring release of Xbox LIVE Game Room, a virtual arcade where gamers will battle it out playing 30 arcade classics such as Centipede and Asteroids Deluxe.

Game Room is just one piece in what Aaron Greenberg calls “the biggest year in Xbox history.”

“There’s a generation of people who grew up with a set of games like Centipede that are favorites,” says Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division. “They look almost like casual, fun games today, (but) at the time they were high-end, edgy games. Game Room is the idea of bringing that back to the market and bringing that to a very broad audience.”

Bach compared the experience people will have in the Game Room to a Journey concert he attended with his daughter – it was a great experience for him because he grew up listening to the band. And it was fun for his daughter because she thinks Journey is cool.

“I think you’re going to have the same phenomenon with Game Room,” Bach says. “Even the people who would call themselves ‘hardcore gamers’ are going to think that it’s fun in a retro way.”

Game Room will be one piece in “the biggest year in Xbox history,” says Aaron Greenberg, director of product management for Xbox 360. The year coming up also includes the 10th anniversary of the Xbox console, major game releases virtually every month (including the next installment of Halo), and a number of improvements on Xbox LIVE, Greenberg said.

“When you add it up, it’s pretty clear we’ve never had a year like this,” Greenberg says.

Game Room will be part “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”-style teen nostalgia, and part King Kong-style one-upmanship.

Frank Pape hopes friends and strangers alike will develop new (or revive old) arcade rivalries.

Frank Pape, senior director of business and product development for Xbox, hopes friends and strangers alike will develop new (or revive old) rivalries while competing for bragging rights and leader board top spots.

“If someone on my friends list has played in my arcade, their name will be hanging next to my machine and I’ll get notified of that on all of my devices,” says Pape. “It’s just this constant one-upmanship and also being able to customize my own arcade and show off the machines just like they were, with lights and fancy sounds.”.

Game Room will be available for free download to Xbox LIVE or a PC, and once installed, players – or rather, their avatars – can wander a customizable, old-school arcade with colorful game cabinets from game makers Atari, Intellivision, Konami and others.

At CES this week Microsoft announced the spring release of Xbox LIVE Game Room, an old-school virtual arcade where gamers can battle it out playing 30 classics such as Centipede and Asteroids Deluxe.

Although video games are constantly becoming more realistic and complex, many gamers got their start playing arcade games with eight-bit graphics and relatively simple objectives.

“There’s huge nostalgic appeal to these games,” says Kristen Miyake, an Xbox marketing manager.

After launching Game Room, Xbox will release new game titles weekly, all of which players can demo free of charge and purchase individually. To download games, users purchase Microsoft Points – the virtual quarters of the Xbox LIVE marketplace. The points are credited to a user’s account, and the player can then purchase items or games from the marketplace.

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