LAS VEGAS--While it was great to get some solid hands-on time playing, Microsoft debuted something for the Xbox 360 that we'll actually be able to play in late March; not to mention it's much more practical, too.
Xbox Live Game Room essentially allows you to create your own arcade, offering titles from many classic developers such as Atari, Intellivison, and Konami. When the service goes live in late March, 30 titles will be immediately available, with five to seven new games being released each week.
There's no dashboard update required for Game Room; you'll just need to download it once and launch it each time you want to play (the same way Netflix is set up). Once in the Game Room world, you'll use your avatar to navigate through arcade cabinets. If Xbox Live friends are currently playing, you'll be able to see their avatar next to a machine and even be able to challenge them.
Game Room arcade titles will go for $3, though you have an option to purchase a $5 version of the game that will extend playability to a Windows Live account. If you really want to transport yourself back to arcade halls of the 80s, you can also play by 25-cent credits. Each arcade title in Game Room can be played once for free as well.
With Game Room, Microsoft is really trying to bring back the nostalgic social interactive element of a classic arcade scene. Using top-score notifications, you'll be able to see what game friends have played and how many points you'll need to top them in titles like Asteroids and Centipede.