Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Microsoft launches Project Natal and new games for Xbox

By Maggie Shiels
Technology Reporter, BBC News, Las Vegas

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Natal allows gamers to play without touching a controller

Project Natal will go on sale in November 2010, Microsoft has announced.

The system allows users to play games controlled by body movements and speech rather than a handheld device.

Visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, also heard that Natal will work on all existing Xbox 360 consoles.

"With Project Natal we are allowing you to have the experience you want with technology that's natural for you," said Microsoft's Robbie Bach.

Natal's body gesturing system relies on cameras, sensors, microphones and software to understand voice commands and capture the motions of a player as they jump, kick or wave.

"We are removing the last barrier to gaming - the controller," said Mr Bach, President of Entertainment and Devices at Microsoft.

Project Natal was first announced at the E3 video games conference in June last year. Since then, Microsoft has been inundated with questions about when it would go on sale.

At the company's keynote presentation at CES, Mr Bach did not say how much Natal would cost or which countries it would launch in.

The audience that packed the Hilton Hotel was also told that in the 10 years since its debut, the Xbox has sold 39 million units and 500m games - generating around $20bn in retail sales.

New games

Alongside the Natal news was the announcement that the next instalment in the popular Xbox game Halo will come out in the autumn.

Mr Bach treated the audience to a sneak preview of Halo Reach, but bloggers noted that it had been available on the web for some time.

Microsoft also revealed a new Xbox service called Games Room. It follows in the footsteps of other nostalgic offerings from Nintendo and Sony by allowing gamers to play classic arcade games like Atari's Tempest, Sub Hunt, Star Raiders and Astros mash.

Thirty games will be available from the spring over the Xbox Live network, enabling users to compete against one another. Microsoft envisages releasing 1000 games over the next three years.



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