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Microsoft opens XBox Live to the PC platform

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Microsoft this week extended the Xbox Live network to the Windows PC platform, as it launched a Windows Vista version of the Halo 2 game.

Microsoft plans in June to launch Shadowrun, which is the first game that will allow Windows gamers and Xbox 360 players to get involved in cross-platform match-ups and play each other online.

The unification of Xbox and PC gaming seems like a big thing for Microsoft, although it is probably technically trivial. Still, the gamers have to be recognised and call up the same gamertag and friends lists as if they were playing on an Xbox.

Microsoft Interactive Entertainment corporate VP Peter Moore said: "The benefits of expanding Xbox Live to Games for Windows titles is twofold: we're bringing together two communities that share a passion for playing online games, and we're enhancing the online experience for PC gamers who have long desired seamless game and voice connectivity."

Gold membership cost $49.95 per year and other Live membership is free, but cross-platform gameplay and matching you against players of the same skill level is only available to Gold members.

Given that the PC is an open platform for development it makes sense that every network should include the PC, but only where the device has the power to play the game as well as the console can. It's unlikely that Sony can follow suit, given that it has more power in the PS3 than any PC, and it's unlikely to offer its modern games on PCs, but perhaps Nintendo might try a similar move.

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Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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