XBox Live provides an amazing online platform for collaborative (and competitive) gaming. It also serves as a convenient software delivery mechanism. To illustrate the second point, four new maps were released today for the insanely successful game Halo 2, now about 5 months old.
Halo 2 has provided millions of hours of enthralling and addictive game play since its release. I recently wrapped up the campaign, offline, mode of the game and have also been playing it on XBox Live since its' release. The packaged maps were getting boring very fast. The new releases are already picking up fans, just hours into their release.
The new maps have been released in two packs - a free version has two maps, Containment and Warlock and a second pack, Killtacular, has two other maps, Sanctuary and Turf, priced at $5.99, and promised to be free from June 28, an interesting pricing model. The official Halo 2 Multiplayer Pack will be available in stores on the same date for $11.99 (est) and will have nine maps in all, with the other five available for download then.
An auto-update also fixes a few long-standing cheats/hacks that have bedeviled players and engendered much profanity. One of the well-known cheats fixed by the update include the standby sneak, wherein unscrupulous players would hit standby on their modems to freeze opponents and move to other positions.
Containment is a map set on an icy patch of a faraway world, with a couple of Scorpion tanks, flying Banshees, and the usual accoutrements of weapons lying around. Warlock takes the original Halo's Wizard map, and updates it somewhat into a castle-like setting.Turf is set on an Earth of sorts, in an urban setting, and Sanctuary is set on a compound similar to those in the campaign offline game and features waterfalls, rock outcrops, and a few surprises in the mountains.
My friends have set up complex custom games such as Zombies, Hunters, and GangWars to add more spice to the mix of default playlists available, which will also see updates soon. The tales I could tell...
The XBox has had significant pickup in sales, and Microsoft is scheduled to announce its successor next month, perchance too soon.
In other news, Microsoft replaced their longtime CFO,John Connors, money manager of one of the largest troves of cash anywhere, with Chris Liddell, erstwhile CFO of International Paper.
Just another day at Redmond.