Xbox Live turning five

Microsoft to celebrate next week's anniversary of its online gaming service by letting players go toe-to-toe with the creators of a slew of multiplayer hits.

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November is a big month for Microsoft gaming milestones in North America. The original Xbox launched on November 15, 2001, and went online with the official launch of the Xbox Live service on the system's first anniversary. More recently, the Xbox 360 and its revamped Xbox Live Arcade debuted on November 22, 2005.

With a handful of anniversaries to acknowledge this month, Microsoft is starting by celebrating the fifth anniversary of Xbox Live with the "Xbox Live is 5ive" promotion. To mark the occasion, from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Pacific on November 15, developers from 17 of the newest Xbox Live games will be playing their titles online and available to mix it up against all comers. Members of the Halo Wars development team will also spend time on Halo 3. A schedule of which devs are playing and when is available at Xbox.com.

In addition to the "Game with Fame" sessions, Microsoft is also holding a "Play and Win" contest. Xbox 360 owners who register their gamertags before November 15 and play an online multiplayer game on the anniversary will be entered to win an array of accessories for the system from an HD-DVD player add-on to a 1,600 Microsoft points card.

When it launched five years ago, Xbox Live was available as a $49.95 starter kit that included a year's subscription to the service, a headset, and demo versions of Whacked! and Moto GP. Those two games were part of an original lineup of online-enabled titles including MechAssault, Unreal Championship, NFL Fever 2003, NFL 2K3, NBA 2K3, NHL 2K3, and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon.

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