Gamers to compete in online world cup

Microsoft’s XBox video game system will team up with software maker Electronic Arts to stage an online interactive world cup tournament later this year, the companies announced on Thursday.

The project is part of XBox’s sponsorship for soccer’s 2006 World Cup in Germany.

To compete in the tournament, players will need an XBox system and EA’s Fifa 2005 game software, which will begin selling in stores in October and include an online component for XBox for the first time. EA’s Fifa game for XBox competitor PlayStation 2, made by Sony, already contains a multiplayer capability.

Neither Michel Cassius, director of XBox marketing Europe, nor Clive Downie, EA’s Europe marketing director, would say how many participants they expect for the tournament, which will run from October to December with the championship to be staged during world governing body Fifa’s annual world player of the year gala event in Zurich, Switzerland.

The tournament will begin with participants able to play from home, with winners advancing to eight regional finals on six continents, Cassius and Downie said. One of the regional finals will be staged in New York, but neither Cassius nor Downie would disclose the other locations.

Downie said the online world cup has the potential to be staged as an annual competition, but there are no firm plans.

Cassius would not disclose what XBox’s sponsorship was worth to be designated as the official video game console of the 2006 World Cup.
EA has been a licensee of Fifa for 10 years, and Downie said this tournament was an extension of that contract. - Sapa-AP

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