Video game publishers this week revealed their lineups for the launch of Microsoft’s new Xbox — closely watched information in an industry where the success of a game console is tied to the availability of cutting-edge titles.
Microsoft’s investment in the Xbox 360, which ships to stores next month, is a key effort in the world’s biggest software maker’s plan to spur growth by grabbing a larger share of the $25 billion global video game market.
In an effort to narrow the lead of No. 1 game console maker Sony Corp., Microsoft is bringing its new console to market several months ahead of Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 3.
Analysts, who expect Microsoft to ship about 2 million Xbox 360s this year, have been anxiously awaiting the list of games that will be available for the next-generation system’s debut. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)
David Clayman, an editor for IGN’s Xbox and Xbox 360 enthusiast sites, said the game lineup announced by publishers is robust.
Microsoft won strong support from Electronic Arts Inc., the world’s largest video game publisher and has a broad range of games to support its new machine -- from EA’s “Madden NFL 06” football game and its racing title “Need for Speed Most Wanted,” two of industry’s best sellers across all platforms, to Rare’s much-anticipated shooting game “Perfect Dark Zero.”
“It looks like it will appeal to a mass audience,” Clayman said of the apparent lineup.
Microsoft has said it expects 15 to 20 games on the market for the North American roll-out of its next-generation game player on Nov. 22, and has promised to reveal the full roster in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, video game companies have laid out their own plans.
Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. is shooting to have five games ready for the Xbox 360 debut, a spokesman said.
Best known for its controversial but wildly successful ”Grand Theft Auto” franchise, Take-Two said its launch titles are basketball game “NBA 2K6,” hockey game “NHL 2K6,” tennis game “Top Spin 2,” snowboarding game “Amped 3” and “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,” a role-playing game that appeals to hard-core gamers who are usually the first to buy new consoles and talk them up to friends.
Activision Inc. has four Xbox 360 launch titles on its list. They are action game “Quake 4,” extreme sports title ”Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland,” western-themed “GUN” and ”Call of Duty 2,” the sequel to one of the biggest military shooter games on the market.
EA, the world’s biggest video game publisher, on Monday said it will have five titles out in time for the launch. They are “Need for Speed Most Wanted,” its “FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup” soccer title, basketball game “NBA Live 06,” golf game “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06” and “Madden NFL 06.”
A THQ Inc. spokesman said the company has two launch window titles for the Xbox 360: urban action game “Saint’s Row” and ”The Outfit,” a World War II-inspired game.
Microsoft this week confirmed that the action-adventure game “Kameo: Elements of Power” and “Perfect Dark Zero,” both from game developer Rare, will be shipping at launch.
“Project Gotham Racing 3” from independent game studio Bizarre Creations also should be in stores, Microsoft said.
IGN’s Clayman said “Project Gotham Racing 3” and “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” are the titles that best showcase the new technology in the Xbox 360, adding they “scream next-generation.”