The number of gamers subscribed to Xbox Live have doubled in the past year, reaching 2 million in total recently. The service was launched in the US in November 2002, and progressively rolled out to other territories. Early on, there were few titles to compel gamers to fork over US$50 for a 12-month subscription, but as the catalogue of Live-enabled titles grew, so did the user base.

"Reaching the two million member milestone in such a short time speaks volumes about the depth and vibrancy of the Xbox Live community," said Robbie Bach, senior vice president of the Home and Entertainment Division and chief Xbox officer at Microsoft. "This enormous growth is a true testament to the compelling content and engaging experiences enabled through Xbox Live today. The service is inspired by the creative power of the individual and fuelled by the passion of a worldwide community."

Of course, their cause wasn't harmed by Microsoft effectively making Xbox Live support a requirement for all new titles. For some games, that meant merely having online High Score tables, but genuine online multiplayer is slowly becoming a default feature in Xbox games.

1 million new subscriptions in the past 12 months - the equivalent to one every 30 seconds - is essentially a win-win situation for Microsoft and gamers alike. For us online enthusiasts, it means more like-minded people playing online at any given time of the day or night - the chance of finding nobody to play with is greatly reduced.

The win for Microsoft is their favourite kind: profit. With some 2 million subscribers all paying US$50 a year, Xbox Live is big business, raking in US$100 million a year. Many devotees are on their second 12-month period, while the earliest of early adopters will be soon approaching their third anniversary.

Existing subscribers will be pleased to hear that whatever remains of their current period will be fully transferable over to their shiny new Xbox 360 this Christmas. Microsoft plan to have more than 300 multiplayer Xbox and Xbox 360 games available worldwide for gamers to enjoy this holiday period.

Adding to the popular Halo 2 and Forza Motorsport, Xbox fans can look forward to
games like Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, Star Wars Battlefront II and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. Those planning on upgrading to Xbox 360 can look forward to playing some top new titles on Live:
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Project Gotham Racing 3
  • Madden NFL 06
  • Dead or Alive 4
  • Call of Duty 2
How long will it take before the Live Army numbers 3 million strong?

Are you a Live subscriber? Do you plan to renew your subscription when it expires? What could Microsoft do to improve the service? Have your say in News Discussion.
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