Xbox's thriving Marketplace

Microsoft has announced details about the content you'll be able to download from its Xbox Live Marketplace when the Xbox 360 is launched on 2nd Decem

Microsoft has announced details about the content you'll be able to download from its Xbox Live Marketplace when the Xbox 360 is launched on 2nd December.

The Marketplace, which is a digital download centre for games, movies and music videos, will have over 400 pieces of content, some of which will be free.

The free content will include interactive demos of 'FIFA '06: Road to the 2006 FIFA World Cup', 'NBA Live 06' and 'Need for Speed Most Wanted'.

The so-called 'Premium' Marketplace content, which includes extra game weapons and soundtracks, will only be available with the Xbox's new online currency called Microsoft Points.

You'll be able to buy a card worth 2100 points for £17.50. To offer some perspective, Xbox Live Arcade games will be available for 400, 800 or 1200 points, and there'll also be content like FIFA Team Logo Themes (150 points each) and Gamer Pictures for Amped 3 (20 points each) available on launch day. The prices for more interesting content, like extra cars for Ridge Racer, have yet to be decided.

The availablity of High Definition movie trailers also suggests that entire HD movies might ultimately be available to download, which could separate the Xbox 360 from the HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray battle nicely.

Overall, the new Xbox Live features are shaping up to be the most exciting next-gen aspect of the 360. Outside of the Marketplace, there'll be four new matchmaking zones called Underground, Family, Pro and Recreation which let you play with like-minded people, and a new universal ranking system system for all games.

With the PS3 possibly a year away, it's the online gaming place to be. We'll see you there.

More teasers are, of course, available from the official Xbox site.

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