A total of 13 U.S. and Canadian broadband service providers are the first to publicly support the "Xbox Compatible" program, an initiative designed to make it easy for gamers to experience "Xbox Live," a broadband-only multiplayer service that launched Nov. 15.
The current list of North American broadband service providers that will support Xbox Compatible include Bell Canada, BellSouth Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., EarthLink Inc., MSN, Qwest Communications, Rogers Cable Inc., SBC Communications Inc., TELUS Corp., Time Warner Cable's Road Runner service and Verizon Communications.
The service enables Xbox gamers to play against each other, talk back and forth via a new Xbox Communicator headset and download new content to the console.
The Xbox Compatible service plans will "help ensure that playing Xbox Live games across these plans will be quick, simple and hassle-free," said J. Allard, general manager of the Xbox platform.
Microsoft is making a huge bet that Xbox Live will give it a competitive edge against gaming console rival Nintendo and market leader Sony Corp., which has shipped more than 50 million PlayStation 2 consoles so far.
CED sister company In-Stat/MDR found that nearly half of the respondents in a recent survey expressed interest in online console gaming, and that well over half of the positive respondents were willing to pay $5 or more per month for the service, and one-third of that same group were willing to pay $10 or more per month.