Television comes to gaming consoles

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Microsoft's Xbox One. Picture: The Washington Post, Bloomberg photo by Ron Wurzer

Microsoft in June will begin airing original television shows on Xbox consoles as it continues a quest to anchor the boxes at the heart of home entertainment.

Xbox Originals programs ranging from dramas and comedies to documentaries and live events will air with interactive features taking advantage of video game console capabilities, according to Microsoft.

“Microsoft has a long and rich legacy in the content business,” executive vice president of Xbox Entertainment Studios Jordan Levin said in a release.

“Games have been part of our DNA for at least the last 15 years, and creating original TV content is a logical next step in our evolution.”

Hollywood talent enlisted to help create programs includes star directors Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott, who were involved with separate projects based on exclusive Xbox blockbuster science fiction battle franchise “Halo.”

The roster of original shows included a series about international street soccer and a documentary about a search for a trove of vintage Atari computer games dumped long ago in a landfill in a US desert.

Microsoft said that original programs are intended as incentive for people to make Xbox consoles preferred “all-in-one” entertainment devices.

Microsoft late last year launched a new generation Xbox One console touted as a home entertainment hub that goes far beyond games.

The beefed-up hardware is powered by software that allows for instant switching between games, television, and Internet browsing. Microsoft-owned Skype was also integrated for online group video calls.

Kinect motion and sound sensing accessories accompanying the consoles recognize users; respond instantly to commands spoken in natural language, and even detect a person's pulse.

Microsoft said this month that it has sold more than five million Xbox One consoles since they were launched in November.

The news came a day after video game competitor Sony said it had sold more than seven million of its latest-generation PlayStation 4 consoles that debuted in mid-November.

Sony's numbers refer to sales to consumers while Microsoft's involve sales to retailers.

A new game, “Titanfall,” which Microsoft was counting on to boost sales of the new Xbox, was the world's hottest-selling game in March, according to industry tracker NPD Group.

“Titanfall” involves a futuristic galaxy torn by fighting between elite fighter pilots and huge, heavily armed titans. - AFP


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