Microsoft have launched their Xbox Live Arcade service in Europe, and are offering a free launcher disk with 12 demos to give an idea of what to expect.

Live Arcade was first announced at E3 back in May 2004, and at the time sounded as though it'd offer very low priced basic titles such as poker and hearts - similar to those available on MSN Messenger - but it'd appear the prices have creeped upwards considerably with basic games costing 7.49 and "more fully featured titles" priced at 11.50 each.

Four genres of gaming will be featured in the Live Arcade, ranging from "Card and Board" such as spades and backgammon, "Puzzle and Trivia" such as Bejeweled, "Action and Arcade" titles including Marble Blast, and "Social Sports" which include bowling and billiards.

You'll need the "free" launcher disk to use the service which will be included in new Xbox Live Starter kits, or can be ordered from the Xbox customer support line on 0800 587 1102 - however you'll have to pay a postage and packing fee of around 4 to receive it, which is disappointing when you consider each and every game you buy via the service also costs extra.

Xbox Live Arcade was also on last month's Official Xbox Magazine demo disk, giving a glimpse at 12 of the 19 titles which are available from the full service, most of which are single player and fairly basic, but ultimately enjoyable whilst they last.

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