NEW YORK (Kyodo) Microsoft Corp. said Thursday that video game legend Hironobu Sakaguchi has joined Microsoft Game Studios to develop role-playing games for its Xbox game console.

Sakaguchi, 42, created the Final Fantasy franchise, which has sold more than 60 million units worldwide. He now leads his own development studio, Mistwalker.

“I’m excited about the two epic game titles we will be developing,” Sakaguchi said. “I’m confident we will be able to create games that provide gamers with a new kind of thrill.”

Microsoft is trying to get a competitive edge against Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Nintendo Co. in the race toward the next generation of video game machines, an industry analyst said.

Sakaguchi developed the Final Fantasy series first for Nintendo machines and then for Sony’s PlayStation 2. The shift contributed to robust sales of PlayStation 2 machines, indicating game machine sales could depend on software titles, the analyst said.

Sony and Nintendo plan to release their respective next-generation video game platforms this spring.

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