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EA and MS deal for online gaming

Differences patched up...

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Microsoft and Electronic Arts are patching up their differences through a deal which will see EA games played online through the XBox Live service.

The service launched in November 2002 but EA had doubts about the revenue-sharing model. The service also had to be run on Microsoft-controlled servers and EA appears to have had doubts about giving a competitor so much access to how people played its games. Microsoft now allows third parties to run servers. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

EA will offer about 15 games including sports titles Madden NFL, NBA Live 2005, FIFA Soccer 2005. Battlefield, Burnout3 and Time Splitters will also be available.

The decision, announced at the games jamboree E3 in Los Angeles, may have been influenced by Microsoft's decision to withdraw from sports games. MS announced in March that it would not update its football, hockey and basketball games.

XBox Live claims 750,000 subscribers in 24 countries. By getting EA on board. MS may well achieve its target of 1m subscribers by June. ®

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