E3 06: Lost Planet demo leads E3 Xbox Live promotion

Gears of War trailer among 60 "pieces of new content" that will be available for download during next week's free week of Xbox Live.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent

At the DICE Summit in February, Microsoft corporate vice president Peter Moore announced that approximately 50 percent of Xbox 360 owners use Xbox Live. That's a marked improvement above the 10 percent of original Xbox owners who used the online gaming service.

Now, the software giant is trying to convince subscribers of Xbox Live Silver, the free version of online service, to pay money for Xbox Live Gold, which allows for online play. From 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 8, until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 14, any Xbox 360 owner can log onto Xbox Live and play with friends gratis.

It's no coincidence that the free week of Xbox Live is coinciding with the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo--which is now just over a week away. In fact, as Microsoft has previously stated, the event will be designed to bring the E3 experience to those unable to attend the Los Angeles event, which is not open to the public.

Today, Microsoft revealed the specifics of its Xbox Live promotion--which, unsurprisingly, will feature a bevy of free downloads related to the Xbox 360 games that will be at E3. Microsoft said that "over 60 pieces of new downloadable content will be available" on Xbox Live Marketplace starting next Monday.

Many gamers will be most excited by the release of a demo for the recently subtitled Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, the forthcoming sci-fi adventure game from Capcom. The game itself, which is exclusive to the Xbox 360, won't be available until 2007.

One of the most anticipated titles tentatively set to ship for the 360 this year is Epic Games' Gears of War. While no demo for the third-person shooter will be made available, Microsoft will "debut the first-ever Gears of War high-definition game trailer" on Xbox Live Marketplace. Several movie trailers will also be made available, as well as "a flood of HD trailers from games that have yet to be announced." Some gamers have taken the "flood" reference as further evidence that a trailer for the next Halo game will be at E3.

Microsoft also promised new content from a variety of games on Xbox Live Marketplace, including: Crackdown, Moto GP 06, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent, Test Drive Unlimited, Viva Piñata, The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II, and Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2--which no longer has "beach volleyball" in the title, but retains it in the game. Microsoft did not specify which of the aforementioned games would be getting trailers and which would be getting demos.

Next week's promotion will also mark the release of the classic card game Uno on Xbox Live Arcade. Rounding out the E3 festivites will be various other promotional events, including E3 Gamerpics and themes; a behind-the-scenes featurette on developers preparing for E3; and "Game With Fame" sessions with Jenny McCarthy, Method Man, and Dave Navarro's new band, Panic Channel.

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