Not all the promised features of the New Xbox Experience will arrive on November 19, but streaming of HD movies from Netflix will and and it’s a first for Microsoft:
It’s something you can’t get on the Roku. Nor on LG’s BD300. Nor on Samsung’s P2500 / P2550 Blu-ray players. Nor through Netflix’s own "Watch Instantly" portal. It’s high-def Netflix streaming, and it’s coming first to Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Yes friends, when the all new dashboard hits on November 19th, with it will come HD Netflix streaming for (US-based, presumably) Xbox Live Gold members.
There will only be 300 movies to start with and all the details haven’t been released yet, but it is on the way. For more on the interface changes coming in the New Xbox Experience, see Engadget’s exclusive first look.
Chris Morris at Forbes today broke the news that Xbox LIVE Primetime, the centerpiece of Microsoft’s "New Xbox Experience" (NXE) planned for the fall, has had to be delayed.
Microsoft has delayed the launch of "Xbox Live Primetime," its programmed series of interactive games with real-world prizes, until the spring. Microsoft managers say the delay is necessary in order to ensure a smooth launch of the system’s new user interface (or, if you prefer the terminology of Microsoft’s PR department, the "new Xbox experience").
The engineering challenges proved formidable–perhaps even more than the company anticipated. Because the relaunch of Xbox Live is the biggest gaming project the company has undertaken since getting the 360 onto store shelves, things have slipped. Rather than postponing the launch until next year, when all touted features will be ready, the company has opted to cut. (Microsoft said recently that it would delay launching the feature that would allow members in different locations to simultaneously watch a streaming Netflix movie together.)
Aaron Greenberg, group marketing manager for Microsoft, said the company is still very dedicated to the concept of Primetime and continues to work on it.
When Primetime was announced in July, I was dubious of the concept and still am without regard to the technical hurdles. It just doesn’t seem attractive either as an interactive game or as a business. Many new technologies start out lamely imitating their predecessors and using Xbox LIVE to imitate a TV game show seems to fit nicely in that category.
Microsoft’s press show today led off the E3 gaming conference and besides the new Xbox version already announced and the usual announcements of new games, the big news was a deal for Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers to watch Netflix movies streamed via the Internet:
At the E3 Media and Business Summit, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), the world’s largest online movie rental service, today unveiled an exclusive partnership to offer consumers the ability to instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to the television via the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system. Xbox 360 will be the only game system that lets users instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix. This movie watching innovation will be available to Xbox LIVE Gold members who are also Netflix subscribers and will let those users enjoy streaming movies from Netflix on Xbox LIVE at no additional cost.
A growing library of more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes will be available from Netflix when it launches on Xbox LIVE in late fall, with more choices added over time.
From the Netflix Web site, members simply add movies and TV episodes to their individual instant Queues. Those choices will be automatically displayed on the TV screen via Xbox 360 and available to watch instantly. Once selected, movies will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds. In addition to instantly streaming movies to the TV, Xbox LIVE Gold members can fast-forward, pause and rewind, all using either their Xbox 360 Controller or Media Remote.
It seems to be the same implementation as the $100 Roku set top Netflix box announced in May which is fine, although one does wonder why they didn’t spiff up the implementation a bit to cut out the separate Netflix website step and allow selection direct from the Xbox.
Rounding out their announcements, Microsoft also unveiled something called Xbox LIVE Primetime which is coming this fall and is billed as “the next evolution in game shows.”
Xbox LIVE Primetime is a groundbreaking channel on the new Xbox experience, a new generation of games and entertainment experiences that will be available this fall for Xbox 360. The world’s biggest virtual game show stage, Xbox LIVE Primetime is a place where content is always fresh; play is global, live and massively multiplayer; and prizes are plentiful. A first-of-its-kind phenomenon, this new generation of interactive game shows lets Xbox LIVE members challenge friends and choose to compete against people from across the globe in real time. Xbox LIVE Primetime launches in the fall with the following interactive game:
- “1 vs. 100” (Endemol). From the makers of “Deal or No Deal,” Endemol, the world’s largest independent production company, brings the popular television game show “1 vs. 100” to Xbox LIVE Primetime. The exclusive game pits one Xbox LIVE member against 100 others from around the world with a live host and great prizes. The goal of “the One” is to eliminate all the opposition by correctly answering questions, hoping that the opponents will answer incorrectly and be eliminated from the game. And stay tuned for “1 vs. LIVE,” where one lucky winner will have a chance to compete against the entire Xbox LIVE community.
My immediate observation is that I find the premise of “1 vs. 100″ a trifle dubious as to entertainment value – it’s like an unedited TV game show with all the participants invisible and only a scoreboard visible to the viewer. Why would anyone not participating even care? However, the real question is what is the monetization plan that is paying for the “live host and great prizes”? Are there commercials like a TV game show or is there some sort of special fee? I’m sure there will be more fun with this one in the fall.