Technology

Microsoft slims down Xbox console

Microsoft has launched an upgraded, slimmer Xbox 360.

The new console - to be launched this week - will have the same price as the old system, but comes with Wi-Fi and a 250 GB HD.

It follows a similar move by Sony, which released its own slimmer edition in August 2009.

The announcement was made ahead of the E3 games convention in Los Angeles, at which the firm showcased its range of forthcoming games.

The event also saw the first public viewing of Call of Duty: Black Ops, the latest edition in the popular Call of Duty series.

The new edition is set during the Vietnam War and takes the players through the tunnels of South Vietnam and into the jungles of Laos.

The game will hit the shops on 9 November this year.

New deal

Image caption The slimmed down console has 130GB more storage than present models

Microsoft said a new deal with Call of Duty's publisher Activision would see all add-on and map packs for the game being released on Xbox 360 first, and that this deal would last for the next three years.

The event, less than 12 hours after it unveiled the final version of its hands-free control system Kinect, also had offerings from Hideo Kojima, the man behind the Metal Gear Solid series with Metal Gear Solid: Rising; Gears of War 3; Fable 3; and Halo Reach, the latest in the long running series.

Microsoft also fleshed out details of the games, as well as software that will be supported by Kinect.

After the success of Wii Sports from rival Nintendo, it was unsurprising that Microsoft are to follow suit, with Kinect Sports boasting six different events, from javelin, to boxing and volleyball.

The firm also demonstrated Kinectimals, a virtual pet that allows users to adopt and play with their favourite animals.

Kinectwill launch on 4 November 2010 in North America, with Europe expected to follow a few weeks later. Microsoft said there will be 15 different Kinect titles at launch.

The firm hopes these new games will help it stay ahead of its arch-rival, Sony PlayStation, which has seen a resurgence in sales over recent months.

Last year, the firm unveiled a number of games that were once the sole domain of the PlayStation, such as Grand Theft Auto and Assassins Creed.

Exclusivity

An exclusive title can mean a significant lift to hardware sales, as gamers are forced into a single platform if they want to actually play it. Halo did much to boost the Xbox 360 when it was launched, as did Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation 3.

However, the price difference between the two systems at the time meant that there were more sales for Microsoft's system than Sony.

Since the two systems launched, an unofficial price war has been waged between the two firms, with Sony reducing the price of the PS3 from £420 at launch to £249.99 ($299 in the US) and Microsoft now selling its Xbox 360 Elite for £199 (down from its original £299 price tag at launch).

Both firms say that their price cuts are not influenced by competitors decisions.

Sony has denied there will be any further reduction in price for the PlayStation 3 at E3, with Sony's UK Sales Director - Mark Howsen - telling the British games industry magazine MCV that there had been "no discussion internally about that at all".

"We're enjoying good year-on-year growth and as long as that continues we'll keep on going I think".

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