“Final Fantasy” creator to develop for next-generation Xbox video game platform

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[begin press release]

Video Game Legend Hironobu Sakaguchi Joins Microsoft Game Studios as a Developer for Next-Generation Xbox Platform
Father of ?oFinal Fantasy? Series and AIAS Hall of Fame Inductee Will Develop Role-Playing Games

REDMOND, Wash. ?” Feb. 24, 2005 ?” Microsoft Corp. today announced that Hironobu Sakaguchi, video game legend and president of Mistwalker game studio, has joined with Microsoft Game Studios to develop role-playing game (RPG) video games exclusively for the next-generation Xbox video game platform. Sakaguchi is best known as the creator of the ?oFinal Fantasy? franchise, which has sold more than 60 million units worldwide, and was executive vice president in charge of game development at Square Enix Co., Ltd. until February 2001.

Citing a shared vision with Microsoft for the next generation of video games, Sakaguchi will lead the creation of two upcoming Xbox-exclusive RPG titles to be published by Microsoft Game Studios.

?oSakaguchi-san has taken role-playing games ?” traditionally a niche market ?” and introduced them to a broad and diverse audience across the globe,? said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of Worldwide Marketing and Publishing at Microsoft. ?oWe are ecstatic to work with Sakaguchi-san and celebrate what this news means not only for Xbox, but for gamers worldwide.?

?oI’m excited about the two epic game titles we will be developing,? Sakaguchi said. ?oA number of talented creators have signed on to help develop these games, and I’m confident we will be able to create games that provide gamers with a new kind of thrill.

?oMicrosoft’s cutting-edge technologies in the next-generation platform will allow me to bring to life an array of ideas that I have had for many years,? Sakaguchi said. ?oI want these games to be alive with a new vision for gaming and vividly depict new characters that will transcend the game, find a place in the hearts of gamers, and make time spent with my games a fond and long-lasting memory.?

Sakaguchi started his career at Square Co. Ltd. in 1986 as director of planning and development. He was promoted to executive vice president in 1991 and eventually ascended to president of Square LA Inc. (now Square USA Inc.) in 1995. In 2000, Sakaguchi was inducted into the coveted Academy of Interactive Arts & Science (AIAS) Hall of Fame for his groundbreaking work on the ?oFinal Fantasy? series. In 2004, Sakaguchi announced that he had started his own development studio, called Mistwalker.

Xbox is coming off a blockbuster year as the only video game console to show year-to-year growth in 2004, while competitors declined*. Driven by epic, platform-exclusive content ?” including ?oHalo 2? by Microsoft Game Studios, ?oFable? by Microsoft Game Studios., ?oNinja Gaiden? by Tecmo Ltd., and Xbox Live”, the only unified online video game console service ?” gamers worldwide continue to flock to Xbox for an unparalleled digital entertainment experience.

About Xbox

Xbox (http://www.xbox.com) is the video game system from Microsoft that brings people together for the most exhilarating game and entertainment experiences. Xbox delivers an expansive collection of breakthrough games, powerful hardware and the unified Xbox Live online service. The tag line, ?oIt’s good to play together,? captures the spirit of Xbox as the social hub of the new digital entertainment lifestyle. Xbox is now available in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.