Xbox LIVE for original Xbox & games axed today

It's April 15th 2010; do you know where your Xbox LIVE service is?  If you've been using the online gaming system on a first-gen Xbox console, or playing original Xbox titles on your Xbox 360, the answer is that Microsoft are turning it off.  As announced back in February, the original service is being discontinued so that Microsoft can update it with functionality the first-gen Xbox games simply can't support.

Those changes will include boosting friends list capacity, but otherwise Microsoft are keeping pretty quiet as to how they envisage developing the online gaming service.  More immediately, it means an end to online multiplayer titles like Battlefront 2, Crimson Skies and Halo 2.

However, Marc Whitten of the Xbox Live team also dropped hints that the change includes more integration with the upcoming Project Natal hardware, which certainly has us curious.  It bears repeating that Microsoft aren't shutting off Xbox Live for the 360, nor the titles released solely for that console, so don't start weeping and rending your clothes thinking the whole thing is going away.

Original Statement:

Dear Xbox LIVE Members,

On April 15 we will discontinue the Xbox LIVE service for original Xbox consoles and games, including Xbox v1 games playable on Xbox 360 and Xbox Originals. I want to start by saying this isn't a decision we made lightly, but after careful consideration, it is clear this will provide the greatest benefit to the Xbox LIVE community.

Seven years ago we laid out our vision for the connected console when we launched Xbox LIVE. We believed then that the power of the Internet to connect people would revolutionize living room entertainment. It started with amazing multiplayer games, and we've since seen that bet pay off again and again with the launches of Xbox 360, Marketplace, Netflix and powerful social features like Facebook, Twitter and None of this would have been possible without the success of LIVE as a multiplayer gaming network.

There's no greater example of the power of the Xbox LIVE community than the "Halo" franchise. "Halo 2" has had an amazing run on LIVE, with a dedicated community more than five years after launch and well into the next generation of consoles. It has fundamentally changed the way we play video games. And while it's difficult to see that run come to an end, the "Halo" franchise continues to act as the benchmark for multiplayer gaming in this generation, with "Halo 3," "Halo 3: ODST" and soon "Halo: Reach" on Xbox 360.

Your Xbox LIVE community has grown to 23 million strong. And as we look down the road, we'll continue to evolve the service with features and experiences that harness the full power of Xbox 360. To reach our aspiration, we need to make changes to the service that are incompatible with our original Xbox v1 games. We will contact the Xbox LIVE members directly impacted by this change and if this includes you, I encourage you to check your LIVE messages and associated e-mail account over the coming weeks for more details and opportunities. We view you as a partner in this process.

We'll share more details soon, but in the meantime I want to assure you that the best is yet to come for Xbox LIVE. I believe we'll look back on 2010 as a landmark year in gaming and home entertainment, and I couldn't be more excited about what we have in store with "Project Natal" and LIVE. The LIVE community is the driving force behind everything we do, and it's because of the community that ground-breaking experiences on Xbox continue to be possible.

See you on LIVE,

Marc Whitten

[via Kotaku]