The Xbox ambitions of making itself a full living room entertainment
alternative get one step closer to fruition, but what does that mean for the gamer at large? It may well mean a lot more options in the near future.
Reports coming direct from Microsoft, as presented at the All Things D "Dive Into Media" conference peg the launch of a set of "interactive" television shows for sometime this year. While there weren't a whole lot of details noted, word from Microsoft's
president of entertainment and digital media, Nancy Tellem, suggested that there were around 125 people working in Microsoft's own studios, with around 100 content partners in tow and a viewership base--measured in Xbox Live members--of around 46 million.
This particular batch of news actually comes out right around the same general time frame that Intel
brought out similar news, in which it was looking to make a run at the living room itself, with a set-top box product and a line of as-yet-undefined television options. But this actually takes the whole process a step up thanks to one critical extra element: interactivity.
While the exact nature of the interaction between viewer / player and content is as yet unclear, the idea that users might be able to alter the content according to their own interactions with that content is a surprising step up. This would not only make Microsoft an outright force to be reckoned with in gaming--leaving aside the progressively more bizarre demands the next Xbox title is looking to make on gamers--but also one worthy of note in entertainment as well. Sure, it's not all sunshine and lollipops--the paywalls on services that would have been free without them, or worse, that require subscriptions on their own is downright painful--but Microsoft has a new concept here that not only serves as passive entertainment but also active entertainment, and that's a combination that hasn't been seen too often in entertainment circles.
The question, of course, becomes one of whether anyone is interested. That's the kind of thing that can really only be answered by bringing the product out and letting the general public decide, but a synthesis of gaming and television all in one product makes for a downright formidable concept indeed. We'll have a bit to wait to see the fullest measure of this development--might make an excellent addition to the upcoming E3 presentations--but it's certainly a new idea. That, in television, may be one of the rarest concepts of all.