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Microsoft rolls out retro games

For Xbox Live Arcade, software giant to unveil new game every Wednesday, many of which will be 25-year-old classics.

SAN FRANCISCO--At a trendy bar filled with gamers and video game press, Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled its lineup of retro hits like "Pac-Man," "Galaga" and "Frogger" as part of its new Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays program.

Under the program, Microsoft will be rolling out at least one new arcade-style game every Wednesday. The list of games will include established hits and new efforts by unknown game developers.

Still, the initiative is kicking off with one of the best-known video games of all time, "Frogger," and will follow with weekly titles that will cost between $5 and $10 to download.

Players will need to connect their Xboxes to an Internet connection in order to download the games, though they don't need to stay connected to play them.

And while some may find it strange that Microsoft is turning to hits of 25 years ago to launch its new program, the company says that such games are indicative of the best that video games have to offer.

"A good game never dies," said Greg Canessa, the group program manager for Xbox Live Arcade. "Our strategy is to pick the best games, just the cream of the crop, ones with evergreen game mechanics that never got old."

Canessa said that the program will also give unknown game designers a chance to get recognition for small projects that might have cost a couple hundred thousand dollars to make. That's especially important in an era, he said, where it's often impossible to get attention for games unless they have budgets of $15 million or more.

He also said that Microsoft aims to have at least 50 titles on the Xbox Live Arcade system by year's end.

Meanwhile, as the evening went on, Canessa announced the program formally to those gathered, and his presentation of "Frogger" as the first game to roll out was greeted by a hearty cheer from the dozens on hand. But the biggest applause went for another retro hit: "Street Fighter II--Hyper Fighting."