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September 27, 2006

Microsoft announces Xbox 360 HD DVD and new games

Posted by David Hunter at 6:27 PM ET.

Microsoft had a herd of Xbox 360 announcements today at its X06 event in Barcelona. Topping the list was pricing and availability for the add-on HD DVD player (which had been previously announced in Japan):

Arriving at retailers in North America, the U.K, France and Germany in mid-November 2006, the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player will retail for $199.99 in North America (estimated retail price)* and €199.99/£129.99 (estimated retail price)* in the U.K., France and Germany. The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player comes with the Universal Pictures’ blockbuster film Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” on HD DVD (for a limited time) and the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.

The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player offers up to six times higher resolution than DVD, and as part of the fall 2006 console update all Xbox 360 consoles will have the ability to output native resolution 1080p games and movies. Users can enjoy blockbuster HD DVD releases, with more than 150 titles available by the holidays from major movie studios including HBO, Paramount Pictures, StudioCanal, Universal Studios, New Line Entertainment and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

I guess that’s one pricing rumor that panned out and the net is that an Xbox 360 with HD DVD add-on is roughly equivalent in price to a Sony PS3 with built-in Blu-ray drive.

Also on the bill were a large number of game announcements which you can see by following the first link, but the most novel was:

A landmark partnership announced between Academy Award-winning writer, director and producer Peter Jackson, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Fran Walsh, and Microsoft Game Studios will create two new interactive entertainment series exclusively for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live®. The first series will be a collaborative effort with Bungie Studios to co-create the next great chapter in the “Halo®” universe. The second series will be an entirely original property targeted at bringing new audiences into the captivating world of interactive entertainment. In addition, Microsoft Game Studios will partner with Jackson and Walsh to establish Wingnut Interactive, a studio dedicated to the creation of world-class interactive entertainment.

The latter seems to be a bit vaguely defined:

Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday that it is teaming with “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson to create content for its Xbox 360, in part to get more mainstream users interested in the company’s video game console.

Just don’t call these products “games.”

“I don’t want to classify it as a game. I’m hoping to stretch the definition of interactive entertainment to go beyond the game,” said Shane Kim, a corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Game Studios.

Kim conceded he’s not sure what exactly these new “entertainments” might be.

“I feel like we haven’t figured it out, to be honest,” he said.

Whatever they are, Kim said they could include deeper plot lines and more interactive drama, or delivering additional content over time, perhaps through the company’s Xbox Live online service.

“It’s about making interactive entertainment a mainstream form of entertainment,” Kim said.

Maybe there’s something there, but an uncharitable view would be that Microsoft went celebrity shopping and just put one on retainer.

Filed under Blu-ray, Coopetition, HD DVD, Hardware, Microsoft, Sony, Xbox

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