Nine more countries to get online Xbox gaming

Microsoft has announced plans to implement its online video gaming service, Xbox Live, in nine more countries, bringing the worldwide total to 35.

In an expansion that should be complete by the end of the year, Brazil, Chile and Colombia are the first South American countries to receive direct access to Xbox Live, and South Africa will be the first African country to join the scheme.

Greece, Hungary, Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic will also be included.

Neither precise dates nor pricing details have been confirmed, though an estimate of October or November would be reasonable, given the busy retail period, and a 12-month subscription to the Xbox Live Gold service costs $49.99 / €49.99.

Regions already supported by Xbox Live include 15 countries in Central Europe and Scandinavia, Mexico and North America, Australia, New Zealand, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

The PlayStation Network is the equivalent service for PlayStation 3 and PSP. It has a wider global spread, being available in 57 countries, including all those in the Xbox Live expansion plans apart from Hungary.

However, while Sony's decision to offer online gaming for free offsets the generally higher price of the console itself, doing so has deprived the company of the reliable income that Xbox Live subscription gives Microsoft.

Sony is therefore to announce an enhanced premium network service that offers further benefits for a similar fee, expected to be revealed during its presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo

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