LOS ANGELES The Xbox 360 has finally knocked down the doors of the "Final Fantasy" franchise. At a press conference in Los Angeles this morning, Microsoft announced that when the all-time great role playing game "Final Fantasy XIII" hits shelves for the PlayStation 3 it will also be available for Microsoft users.
The press conference was Microsoft's kickoff to the "E3" video games summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The convention, open only to members of the media and gaming industry, has been used as a platform for breaking big video game news for over a decade. Sony and Nintendo will have separate press conferences later in the week as part of the same show and dozens of game studios also roll out products, hoping to catch fan and industry buzz.
The "Final Fantasy" announcement is big for the 360 because the PlayStation series of gaming consoles have thrived by nurturing exclusive games and franchises that help brand the systems in users minds. Sony maintains its stranglehold in Japan, in part because of the popularity of the epic role playing game.
The equivalent for Sony would be announcing a "Halo" title for its system, and that could also be announced this week. Rumors of a "Halo Blue" game are circulating around the conference, fueled by the fact that Bungie Studios, developer of the first-person shooter that is among the most popular video games in both sales and cultural impact, broke away from parent Microsoft to become an independent studio.
Other highlights from the press conference seemed targeted at casual gamers who have shown an affinity for Nintendo's Wii system, which lacks the processing power and graphics of the 360 and PlayStation 3 but has developed easy-to-pick-up games and an innovative control system.
Netflix users will now be able to use their 360 consoles to order and store movies at no extra charge.
A developing movie game "You're In The Movies" will allow players to edit and produce movies through a digital camera included in the game.
Karaoke will follow in the footsteps of "Rock Band" but with vocals only.
Avatars will be incorporated into the Xbox live experience with a new dashboard. Microsoft's on-line gaming capabilities are tops among the three gaming giants but Nintendo's Avatar feature has been very popular.