Classic arcades make a virtual return this Spring courtesy of Microsoft.
Microsoft wasn't done when the mega-company developed Xbox Live Arcade as an online space for Xbox 360 consoles. With the upcoming Game Room, Microsoft wants to fully recreate the physical arcade on Xbox Live and Games for Windows Live just as it used to be, only without all the screaming kids and that moldy puke smell.
Available in Spring 2010, the up until now rumored Game Room will be a virtual arcade that Live Avatars can customize and personalize. Games will be available for purchase to place in each individual Game Room as fully sized arcade cabinets. From the video, I happen to be excited to decorate my Game Room with those little 8-bit creatures wandering around, so hopefully they aren't just video magic.
Game Room will support achievements and leaderboards, as expected. For now it looks to be a place for classic games only, but I hope its scope doesn't end up being too narrow. Arcade cabinets will cost 400 Microsoft Points ($5) for use on both the Xbox 360 and PC, and 240 Points ($3) for a single platform. Hearkening back to the old arcade days, games can also be tried for 40 points (50 cents), which will give an experience similar to popping a couple of quarters in a physical machine. I'm a little annoyed by the extra charge to play a game on both platforms from the get-go, but I suppose we should be thankful for a slight cross-platform play discount. Players can also invite friends over to their Game Rooms to try a game before buying it.
Multiple companies are already on board with Game Room, including Atari, Intellivision, and Konami. New games will be launched on the service every week, and Microsoft has plans for 1,000 to be available over the next three years. Game Room will not be an explorable space in the same way as PlayStation Home, so Avatars won't be running around dancing and annoying each other. More details should be available before launch.