Microsoft rewrites the rules on fun with controller-free entertainment, Facebook for your TV, plus instant on 1080p HD streaming video
The future of home entertainment has a new name: Xbox 360. Microsoft Corp. opened the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with a historic Xbox 360 briefing that rocked, tweeted, revved and awakened the world to a new era of fun and entertainment. In addition to premiering 10 exclusive new games, revolutionizing the way we watch TV, and making it easier than ever to connect to friends, Xbox also welcomed visionary filmmaker Steven Spielberg to introduce “Project Natal” and controller-free gaming.
“Today with cultural visionaries at our side and controller-free gaming on our horizon, Xbox 360 authored a new page in home entertainment history,” said Don Mattrick, senior vice president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “For us, this E3 is about breaking down barriers — between generations, between games and entertainment, and most important, between video game players and everyone else — in a way that only Xbox 360 can.”
During its briefing, Microsoft showed why Xbox 360 continues to defy industry sales trends. First: A lineup of blockbuster games to ignite every passion, including “Forza Motorsport 3,” “Alan Wake,” “Halo 3: ODST” and “The Beatles: Rock Band.” Next? A host of groundbreaking Xbox LIVE services, from instant on 1080p HD streaming movies and television to Facebook and Last.fm tailor-made for your TV. And rounding it all out, “Project Natal,” a whole new way to play, no controller required.
“Project Natal”: No Strings (or Controllers) Attached
Unveiled for the first time to the public was “Project Natal,” pronounced “nuh-tall” and a code name for a revolutionary new way to play, no controller required. See a ball? Kick it, hit it, trap it or catch it. If you know how to move your hands, shake your hips or speak, you and your friends can jump into the fun. The only experience needed is life experience.
Compatible with any Xbox 360 system, the “Project Natal” sensor is the world’s first to combine an RGB camera, depth sensor, multi-array microphone and custom processor running proprietary software all in one device. Unlike 2-D cameras and controllers, “Project Natal” tracks your full body movement in 3-D, while responding to commands, directions and even a shift of emotion in your voice.
In addition, unlike other devices, the “Project Natal” sensor is not light-dependent. It can recognize you just by looking at your face, and it doesn’t just react to key words but understands what you’re saying. Call a play in a football game, and players will actually respond. Want to log onto Xbox LIVE? Simply step in front of the sensor.
“The next step in interactive entertainment is to make the controller disappear,” said Steven Spielberg, visionary director and producer. “With ‘Project Natal,’ we’ll see games that bring everyone together through technology that actually recognizes us.”
The Best of the Internet, Custom-Made for Your TV
Groove, party or connect with a friend. Xbox LIVE, the world’s largest social network on TV, today announced that Facebook and Last.fm would be tailor-made for your TV, only on Xbox 360. Microsoft also announced Xbox LIVE Party for movies, which allows movie experiences to be shared — on the couch or across the country over Xbox LIVE in supported movies.
“We are always asking ourselves how to make the TV more social,” said John Schappert, corporate vice president of Interactive Entertainment LIVE, Software and Studios at Microsoft. “By bringing Facebook, Last.fm and Xbox LIVE Party for movies and TV shows to Xbox LIVE, we’re not only extending the walls of your living room beyond your home to your friends in different corners of the world, we’re creating the definitive social network, uniting more than 200 million people to share status updates, pictures, thoughts on music and the world’s best online gaming experience.”
The addition of Facebook to Xbox LIVE means friends are always connected, anytime, anywhere — from virtually any couch. But updating your status and sharing photos won’t be the only things you can do. Using Facebook Connect, you can share your greatest moments in gaming by posting updates and screenshots from supported games directly to Facebook. Don’t let your moment of glory fade away — make sure everyone sees it with Facebook Connect, starting with the future version of the premier EA SPORTS golf franchise “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR.”
A first for TV, Last.fm,1 part of the CBS Interactive Music Group, will give Xbox LIVE subscribers access to millions of songs streaming through Xbox 360 to the best speakers in the house. Xbox LIVE subscribers will be able to create their own free, personalized radio stations and listen to them with friends in the living room or across the country.
Xbox 360 also solidified its place as one of the leading social entertainment networks by announcing Xbox LIVE Party for movies. Go to the cinema with your friends whether you are sitting on the same couch or in living rooms across the country. Starting this year, you can share a virtual theater, see your avatar (a virtual you) on the screen, all while you listen to each other laugh and cry at the movie through voice chat on Xbox LIVE. With movie parties, the only thing you can’t share is the popcorn.
1080p HD in an Instant
Continuing a pioneering effort that began with the introduction of the industry’s first video marketplace in November 2006 and broke new ground with the announcement of the first live TV straight from a gaming console last week in the U.K., Microsoft today announced that Xbox would deliver yet another first-to-the-world: instant on 1080p movies and TV with 5.1 surround sound — direct to consoles connected to compatible HD TVs through the Xbox LIVE social entertainment network.
Starting this fall, a broad selection of movies and TV shows from Zune video on Xbox 360 will be available to start and stream instantly, in the highest video quality and at the push of a button.2 No discs, no waiting for downloads and no delays. Get the selection of a video megastore, the best video clarity available and the convenience of on-demand, only on Xbox 360.
In addition, Microsoft announced it will more than double the number of markets where Xbox LIVE offers its TV shows and movies, growing from eight to 18, by adding Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Xbox LIVE members in these markets will have access to instant on 1080p video. New Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace advancements also came for the U.S., U.K.and Ireland, specifically:
- More choices with Netflix. Watch movies instantly streamed from Netflix.3 Browse and add selections to your instant Queue — right on your TV with your Xbox 360. Plus now with Xbox LIVE Party, you can watch and share supported movies with up to seven friends on Xbox LIVE. Debating between comedy and horror? Recommend your favorites to friends and see your virtual you as an avatar on the silver screen.
- Live TV with BSkyB Ltd. The Xbox LIVE commitment to providing the best global entertainment gains momentum with its newest partner, Sky. Now, for the first time, watch live or on-demand TV from Sky on Xbox 360, including Sky Sports. Never miss a moment of your favorite live TV shows, sports, movies and family-friendly entertainment across the U.K. and Ireland on Xbox LIVE. You can even share your favorites with up to seven friends in an Xbox LIVE Party.
Games for Everyone
Get behind the steering wheel of the sleek Audi R8. Rock out with your friends to the latest music and party games. Discover a new chapter set in the iconic universe of “Halo.” Xbox 360 has the most celebrated, highly anticipated games and experiences in the industry. With more than 1,000 titles to date, there’s more than just one for you.
- Get behind the wheel. Hit the straightaway in more than 400 cars on the world’s most beautiful tracks in the definitive racing game for this console generation, “Forza Motorsport 3.” Or get your avatar in the driver’s seat as you tear up the track with your friends in “Joy Ride.”
- Adrenaline-rushing exclusives. Xbox 360 is your top destination for the biggest exclusives this year and beyond, including “Halo 3: ODST,” “Crackdown 2,” “Alan Wake,” “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction” and “Left 4 Dead 2.”
- Tap into your inner musician. Xbox 360 continues to be the preferred venue for the music games you love. Discover the magic of music and The Beatles with “The Beatles: Rock Band” or start a spontaneous singing party with “Lips: Number One Hits.”
- The best blockbuster experiences. Third-party games play better on Xbox 360. Pairing must-have titles such as this year’s blockbuster from Infinity Ward, “Modern Warfare 2” with Xbox LIVE, Xbox 360 offers more friends to play with and an exclusive collection of Game Add-ons.
1 Xbox LIVE Gold Membership required.
2 Users will need a 1080p-compatible HD TV, an HDMI cable and broadband speeds greater than 8 Mbps for instant viewing at 1080p and 5.1 surround sound.
3 Netflix is available in the U.S. only.