Chief Xbox Officer Robbie Bach has announced that Microsoft hopes to have one
million Xbox Live users by June this year - but new plans from Sony may give the PS2
an innovative edge in the online gaming arena.
Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show, Bach stated that Xbox Live is the
"largest paid content service in the world", and outlined the company's target of
growing from 500,000 subscriptions last June to one million subscriptions this June.
"The essence of what's happening here is that we are finding a new way for people to
have social experiences," he told the audience in Las Vegas. "We're blazing new
trails. The business model is new. The concept model is new. The genres of content
are new. This is all green field."
However, despite the success of Xbox Live, it continues to be outstripped by the
uptake of Sony's online offering, with PS2 network adapter sales continuing to grow
in all major territories despite what many critics label as a disappointing line up
of software so far.
Sony may also be about to steal a technological march on Microsoft's offering - with
the platform holder keen to see developers using the Eye Toy webcam peripheral for
online video communications.
One of the factors often identified as a strong point of the Xbox Live service is
that it has made voice chat into a standard feature of all of its games - and with
the installed base of the popular Eye Toy peripheral continuing to grow, the
potential exists for in-game video chat to be seen as the next logical extension of
Although video communications were proposed by several commentators when Eye Toy was
first demonstrated, it was generally believed that the possibility of the service
being abused would dissuade Sony from allowing the use of the peripheral in this
way. However, a number of developers have informed us that Sony is encouraging the
use of Eye Toy to enable video chat in games, and it's expected that the first
titles to use this functionality will emerge later this year.