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

Posted by Mike Luttrell

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 Xbox Live Arcade Game Roomable 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.