Microsoft's Game Room: The Who, What, When, Where, Why
Written Sunday, January 10, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Earlier on this week we reported that Microsoft at CES 2010 in Las Vegas announced their latest addition to Xbox Live would be coming in the spring, something they like to call Game Room. After gathering information from fact sheets, numerous sources around the web and Microsoft themselves, let us weigh up how the service works, what you can expect to see on it and more importantly, how much it will cost you.
Created by Krome Studios (Scene It? Box Office Smash, Viva Pinata Party Animals), Game Room is quite simply a virtual arcade for your 360 avatar that will allow you to relive the glory days of the traditional amusement arcade without the horrific smells, low level lighting and creepy attendant looking at your junk and what not. The service will be available this coming spring and will also allow you to gain access to it from your Windows Live PC as well... so when you’re meant to be working at work, you could effectively be spending your pay cheque before you’ve even earnt it.
Microsoft bills their latest innovation “as a customized social space for your Avatar inspired by the nostalgic arcades of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.” Your Game Room is said to be a fully customisable environment allowing you to arrange your cabinets, introduce animated mascots, decorate each room with themes and animated icons from your favourite games whilst all the time adding to it and building your collection with new titles every week. You can even invite your Xbox Live friends over or you can visit your friend's personal amusement arcades, but only if they invite you of course. Whether you can play on their games if you don’t own them though seems doubtful as the fact sheet for the platform states, “You can even invite friends into your custom arcade to check out your collection or visit their “game room” to demo games and scope out additions to your collection.” Although that was expected, considering the same mantra applies to things like Sky - if you don't own it, you can't access it. If you have no Xbox Live friends, how about inviting your real friends around and let them get involved, taking advantage of the two player “Couch Mode” where you can show off your silky skills.
Wait... so it’s like PlayStation’s Home? Well, Microsoft responded to that point before anyone even had the chance to bring it up. According to Microsoft, “PlayStation Home separates you from your games and entertainment, while “Game Room” allows you to enjoy classic games while you’re being social. Think of “Game Room” as an interactive and social place where everyone from new gamers to pros can re-live the glory days of the classic arcade.”
At launch the Game Room will feature 30 original arcade and console classics in the virtual hub and the service will add new games to the platform every week. The service is said to be receiving so many games over the next three years that come the end of that three year time period, the Game Room will feature over 1000 arcade games. According to Kotaku, the
1. Centipede (arcade)
2. Asteroids Deluxe (arcade)
3. Tempest (arcade)
4. Crystal Castles (arcade)
5. Lunar Lander (arcade)
6. Jungler (arcade)
7. Road Fighter (arcade)
8. Scramble (arcade)
9. Finalizer (arcade)
10. Tutankham (arcade)
11. Shao-Lin's Road (arcade)
12. Super Cobra (arcade)
13. Red Baron (arcade)
14. Gravitar (arcade)
16. Astrosmash (Intellivision)
17. Mountain Madness Super Pro Skiing (Intellivision)
18. Armor Battle (Intellivision)
19. Space Hawk (Intellivision)
20. Sub Hunt (Intellivision)
21. Sea Battle (Intellivision)
22. Space Armada (Intellivision)
23. Star Raiders (Atari 2600)
24. Outlaw (Atari 2600)
25. Yar's Revenge (Atari 2600)
26. Millipede (Atari 2600)
27. Football (Atari 2600)
28. RealSports Tennis (Atari 2600)
29. Combat (Atari 2600)
How does this differ from the Xbox Live Arcade you ask? Well Microsoft stated that whilst the "Xbox Live Arcade features re-stylized versions of classic games, “Game Room” stays true to the old-school arcade, and features only original versions.” So don’t expect any flashy upgrades, the Game Room is strictly old skool! And by old skool, if you look at the launch titles, we mean real old skool.
As with a lot of things these days, the price is always going to play a huge part and that will also factor in here. The price plan is as follows:
- It is free to access your personal arcade in Game Room.
- If you want to play a game on both the Xbox 360 and a Windows PC, you can purchase a game for 400 Microsoft points ($5).
- If you want to play a game on either the Xbox 360 or a Windows PC, you can purchase a game for 240 Microsoft points ($3).
- You can also pay to play a single game (just like in an amusement arcade) which will cost you 40 Microsoft points ($0.50) a go.
With its impressive support and the backing Microsoft is giving the service (1,000 games in 3 years, which is about 6 or 7 new games a week), gamers will never be short of a game to play on the platform. Whether that’s enough though is an entirely different question. With Game Room, Microsoft are trying to recapture the glory days of the amusement arcades, but doing so from the comfort of your couch doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as huddling round an arcade cabinet with your closest friends did, all those years ago. Despite that, the service is actually quite intriguing and looks to add another selling point to not just the 360, but to the Gold Membership as well.
There is definitely still a market for retro gaming, that’s a cert, but it’s a niche market and to enjoy the service and all it will offer, it looks like you’ll have to be ready to spend a ton of cash on it. I’m sure amongst the 1,000 plus titles though, there will be something for everyone and maybe, just maybe, you can finally scratch that retro itch you’ve been trying to reach for all these years. For retro gaming addicts, get the cheque book ready, the boys from Redmond are on their way round.
Microsoft’s Game Room is slated for a spring 2010 release.