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Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 10:55 GMT
Online Xbox service kicks off
Microsoft Xbox, PA
The Xbox console has gone live online
Microsoft is reporting a good start for the online service of its Xbox game console.

It says it has sold more than 150,000 Xbox Live starter kits in the first week they have been on sale.

During the first seven days of the service, more than 200,000 gamers have logged on to the service and started playing against each other.

The sales of some games that can be played online are also reported to have jumped after the launch of the live service.

Online assault

While online gaming is familiar to many PC owners, consoles have been slow to catch up.

Sony launched its online gaming service in the US in mid-October and now Microsoft's Xbox has followed suit.

The Xbox Live UK service is due to go live at the end of November. Other European gamers will have to wait until March 2003 to join in.

MechAssault screenshot, Microsoft
MechAssault is popular online
Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are locked in a three-way battle for the wallets and hearts of keen gamers. So far, Sony has proved dominant and its Playstation 2 has outsold the Xbox many times over.

But Microsoft has very deep pockets and has pledged to spend $2billion over five years to establish and run the online service for its console.

Gamers get online by purchasing an Xbox starter pack that includes a one-year subscription to the online service, a headset and trial versions of two games; Moto GP and Whacked!

Microsoft said that in the first week gamers racked up more than a million hours of play.

The online service lets people play Unreal Championship, MechAssault, Sega Sports NBA 2003, Sega Sports NFL 2003 and Sega Sports NHL 2003.

The switch-on has also had an effect on the sales of some games. One game, NFL Fever 2003, reported sales up by 120%.

See also:

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