Microsoft is to pump an eye-watering $2 billion (€2.16bn; £1.37bn) into its Xbox games console over the next five years.

Unveiling its strategy for the next half-decade, the software colossus announced it would introduce a new online gaming offering, Xbox Live.

The console comes equipped with Ethernet port, modem and hard drive, enabling access to the net. However, online gamers are advised to get broadband connections – playing via dial-up web access was likened to “sucking pizza through a straw” by Xbox general manager J Allard.

Xbox Live, the latest offensive against Sony’s Playstation 2 and Nintendo’s GameCube, will launch in Europe, the US and Japan in autumn. The service will be tested over the summer by up to 10,000 gamers.

In addition, Microsoft responded to criticism of Xbox’s limited software range by vowing to have 200 games available for the console by Christmas.

Despite huge hype before its launch, the Xbox has failed to shift as rapidly as hoped, prompting recent price cuts around the world.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff