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Bungie Studios Prepares "Halo" Nation to Finish the Fight

Groundbreaking worldwide "Halo 3" public beta and "Halo 2" maps exclusively for Xbox Live on Xbox 360 coming in spring; first "Halo 3" TV ad coming this December.

UK - 15th November 2006 - For the fifth anniversary of the release of the landmark Xbox® video game "Halo®," Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie Studios today announced an exclusive hands-on experience with "Halo 3," one of the industry's most anticipated sequels. The Xbox Live® multiplayer public beta, which is a pre-release version of the multiplayer experience of "Halo 3," is scheduled for availability in spring 2007 exclusively on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system.

In addition, Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie confirmed today that consumers will be able to experience the "Halo" universe this holiday season through a one-time airing of a stirring, 60-second "Halo 3" teaser ad. Finally, it was announced that new, premium downloadable content for "Halo 2," exclusive to Xbox 360, is scheduled for release in spring 2007.

Expanding on everything that has made the "Halo" franchise so widely recognised, the final version of "Halo 3" will provide a wealth of technical and gameplay advancements, available only through Xbox 360, the leading next-generation video game entertainment system. Via the Xbox Live multiplayer public beta, a first of its kind for the "Halo" franchise, gamers will be able to play online via Microsoft's premier online entertainment network and participate in a pre-release version of the multiplayer experience of "Halo 3." This beta also represents an opportunity for gamers worldwide to participate in the development of "Halo 3." Through the resulting feedback, Bungie Studios will be able to further refine and hone the end result of "Halo 3."

Unveiled earlier this year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, "Halo 3" represents the third chapter in the "Halo" trilogy, an international award-winning action series that grew into a global entertainment phenomenon.

On 4th December, the special 60-second "Halo 3" advertising spot will be broadcast in North America and for the first time ever, gamers here in Europe will be able to view the ad simultaneously via Xbox.com. Within the UK, the ad will air on Channel 4 on Friday 15th December. The ad, created by advertising agency McCann Erickson, will provide viewers with a unique and compelling look at Master Chief and the world of "Halo 3." It is easily one of the most anticipated ads of the year and promises to be the biggest event in appointment advertising this year. It underscores the innovative approach and driving influence the "Halo" franchise has commanded. The ad will also be available for download exclusively for Xbox 360 users via Xbox Live Marketplace.

In addition, gamers who have jumped in to Xbox 360 will be able to join legions of Xbox fans next spring in all-new multiplayer maps for "Halo 2" available for download through Xbox Live Marketplace. The exclusive "Halo 2" content will bring new experiences and excitement to the seminal sequel that made entertainment retail history in its first 24 hours.

"Since its original release, 'Halo 2' has redefined online play, delivering superior multiplayer capabilities in addition to an incredible social experience, and nurturing a constantly growing community through Xbox Live," said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. "After five years of rabid fan interest in the 'Halo' franchise and with more than 4 million users and counting on Xbox Live worldwide, this is the perfect time to invite fans to join the global 'Halo' phenomenon."

Next-generation high-definition visuals; enhanced artificial intelligence; an advanced real-time lighting engine; and new weapons, characters and challenges are just a few examples of the evolution of design and technology in "Halo 3." These improvements are designed to give gamers an unparalleled experience and tell an even more compelling and engrossing story. Working in concert with Xbox Live on Xbox 360, "Halo 3" builds on the unique social multiplayer experience of "Halo 2" and promises to expand the innovative and evolving online gameplay and community of "Halo 2" on Xbox Live. In this third chapter of the "Halo" trilogy, Master Chief returns to finish the fight, bringing the epic conflict between the Covenant, the Flood and the entire human race to a dramatic, pulse-pounding climax.

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About Bungie Studios

Bungie Studios was founded in 1991 with two goals: to develop games that combine brilliant technology, beautiful art, intelligent stories and deep gameplay, and then sell enough of those games to achieve its real goal of total world domination. Over the past 10 years it has produced games such as the "Marathon Trilogy" and the first two "Myth" games, hailed as classics by critics and gamers around the world. Bungie's "Halo" franchise is an international award-winning action title that has grown into a global entertainment phenomenon, selling more than 14.5 million units worldwide, logging over 800 million hours of multiplayer action on Xbox Live and spawning action figures, books, a graphic novel, apparel, an upcoming film adaptation and more. Bungie is currently at work on "Halo 3," which represents the third chapter in this "Halo" trilogy and is slated for release in 2007. More information on Bungie can be found at http://www.bungie.net.

About Microsoft Game Studios

Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game systems, the Windows® operating system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows ( http://www.microsoft.com/games), including such franchises as "Age of Empires®," "Flight Simulator" and "Zoo Tycoon®;" Xbox and Xbox 360 ( http://www.xbox.com), including such games as "Gears of War" and franchises such as "Halo," "Fable®," "Project Gotham Racing®" and "Forza Motorsport"; and MSN® Games ( http://www.games.msn.com), the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as "Bejeweled" and "Hexic®."

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox Live online gaming network and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 is expected to have a catalog of 160 high-definition games by the end of 2006 and to be available in nearly 37 countries by the end of this year. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

About Xbox Live

Xbox Live is the first and only unified online entertainment network seamlessly integrated throughout the entire console experience, making it easy for people to find the friends, games and entertainment they want from the moment they power on their Xbox 360 system. Xbox Live connects millions of members across nearly 25 countries to enjoy hundreds of multiplayer games, downloadable games via Xbox Live Arcade, free and premium playable game demos, music videos, and movie trailers, as well as new game levels, characters and vehicles for all their favorite retail games. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-us/live.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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