Microsoft has announced that the Xbox Live online gaming service will be launched in nine new regions over the course of the current year, including key emerging territories such as Brazil and Russia.
Although Xbox Live has been available in North America, Japan and most PAL nations since its launch on the original Xbox console, and on 360 since 2005, users in other countries have so far been forced to create accounts in neighbouring territories.
According to a press release released after Microsoft's pre-E3 media conference yesterday, the service will now officially roll out in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Russia and South Africa this year.
Yvette van Rooyen, product and marketing manager of Xbox 360 South Africa, said of the announcement, "This is an exciting step forward in the experience we can deliver to our loyal and committed Xbox communities. Xbox fans in South Africa will now be able play the best games in the industry with the 23 million other Xbox Live users across the world who have made this their online gaming destination of choice."
"Xbox Live is about building communities and connecting people to each other and to great content," added Marc Whitten, general manager of Xbox Live. "This expansion is another step toward our vision for Live to deliver the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, wherever you are in the world."
Additionally, video-on-demand programming from satellite and cable TV provider Foxtel will be made available this year for Australian Xbox owners. The service will not require a set-top box, and will likely be similar to the Sky service offered in the UK.