LAS VEGAS--It's what gamers had expected, but Microsoft is officially confirming that it plans to release its Project Natal Xbox add-on later this year.
Natal, which that lets people play games using their bodies as a controller, was shown at last year's E3 trade show. There were indications that it was planned for a holiday 2010 release, but Microsoft had not officially said so.
The software maker had hoped that the news would come on stage later Wednesday, as part of CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote speech, but word leaked out after Microsoft briefly posted a video with Robbie Bach to its Channel 9 developer site.
In the video, Bach also mentions another new Xbox feature: Game Room. Game Room is a feature of Xbox Live that lets users create their own arcade. In addition to playing classic games, such as those written for Atari or Intellivision, users can organize the machines and allow their avatars and those of friends to move throughout the virtual arcade.
Through Xbox Live users will be able to invite friends to their personal arcade to show off and try out their collection. Microsoft plans to launch new games each week, with the aim of giving users a choice of more than 1,000 games during the next three years.
We'll have live coverage of everything else Ballmer and Bach have to say, starting at 6:30 p.m. PST. For a preview of the highlights of what's expected, check out this story I did earlier this week.
To get a better sense of Natal, here's a video from when I got to try it out myself last year.