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New Maps for 'Halo 2' Coming to Xbox Live in April

By Susan B. Shor TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Mar 28, 2005 3:28 PM PT

Fans of "Halo 2" -- and there are many -- will soon have the chance to wander new realms. Bungie.Net, the Internet home for Bungie Studios, which developed Halo, announced it will release nine new multiplayer map packs for the game.

New Maps for 'Halo 2' Coming to Xbox Live in April

Bungie will release four of the maps at the end of April for online gamers. Two, named Continent and Warlock, will be free; the other two, Sanctuary and Turf, will cost US$5.99. The full release of nine environments, which carries a $19.99, is slated for June 28. At that time, the remaining five -- Terminal, Relic, Elongation, Gemini and Backwash -- will be made available as downloads.

In addition to the new settings, the disc will contain a documentary on the making of the maps and an animated "Halo 2" side story. All "Halo 2" updates, so far released online on Xbox Live, will also be on the disc.

Free This Summer

Bungie.net also said that all the maps will become available for free by the summer.

Microsoft, which owns Bungie, has sold about 6.5 million copies of "Halo 2," according to Michael Goodman, senior analyst, Yankee Group. The multiplayer map pack adds new computer-generated environments to the game. Goodman likened it to playing in the same playground over and over and then having a new area with new equipment open up.

Microsoft launched Xbox online in November 2002. It took over a year and a half to reach 1 million subscribers.

Online Gaming Lags

"Interest is still rather low according to our consumer survey, but the value is clear to those that have played," Jay Horwitz, senior analyst, Jupiter Media, told TechNewsWorld, referring to online gaming. "As broadband penetration and home networking increase in the U.S., gearing up for connected consoles becomes a much more viable mass-gamer proposition."

While increased online gaming popularity may not be the main intent of the release, Horwitz said it's likely to happen.

"The multipack will extend the life of title and force of the franchise as a driver of consoles sales," he said. "Since the game is geared to drive Xbox Live! participation, this result will naturally follow, if not as a direct consequence."

A check today of "Halo 2's" popularity found that in the last 24 hours more than 426,000 unique players had logged on to play.


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