Xbox Live's "Game Room" to launch March 24

  • Microsoft has announced that its "Game Room" application, a virtual arcade that will invade the Xbox 360 community, will be availale on March 24.

    The goal is to simulate the feeling of visiting an old-school arcade, all from the comfort of the living room. Users will literally be

    able to walk up to an arcade machine and pay 50 cents to play a round of Centipede or Combat. Or, for less than $5, they will be able to purchase the game for unlimited use.

    Players will be able to customize their own arcades, view leaderboards, and unlock a whole new slew of achievements when the service launches next month.

    The Game Room further underlines an expanding trend of "micro transactions" in console gaming, wherein users spend a few bucks here and there to expand their gaming experience. Numerous publishers release pieces of downloadable content (DLC) to enhance their products for under $5 each, Sony's PlayStation Home allows players to buy virtual clothes and accessories for a few chunks of change, and players can customize the menu screens of their home systems for just a couple dollars.

    The upcoming digital space also confirms the large push towards casual gaming, as less and less focus gets placed on the multi-million-dollar sophisticated video game projects and more on the growing demographic of the video game audience. Activision, Atari, Intellivision, and Konami, all with extensive old-school arcade collections, have announced plans to bring content to the Game Room.