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UPDATE: Microsoft Says No Blu for Xbox 360, Touts Netflix Deal and Games at E3

15 Jul, 2008 By: John Gaudiosi

LOS ANGELES — Microsoft Corp. has “no interest” in adding Blu-ray functionality to the Xbox 360 console, instead focusing on Internet distribution of video content, said Shane Kim, VP of strategy and business development for Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, according to Forbes.

“I can categorically say that we're not working on a Blu-ray player for Xbox 360,” Kim told Forbes. “To my knowledge, we don't have any intent to do that.”

The announcement came on the heels of another big announcement for the Microsoft's next-generation console: Netflix Inc.'s content has been added to the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, Microsoft announced July 14 at the E3 Media Summit held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

“Netflix has revolutionized the movie industry, and now that service is available free to all Xbox Live members and Netflix subscribers,” said John Schappert, corporate VP of Xbox Live. “Xbox 360 is the only game system to offer this content at no additional cost to Xbox Live gamers.”

In addition to having access to all of the Netflix movies, gamers will be able to share their Netflix movies and TV content with their friends online. As part of the new Xbox Live software update this fall, gamers will be able to have Xbox Live parties with others around the country and watch movies together from different locations.

Schapper also announced Xbox Live's deal with NBC Universal for the studio's television and movie content. Shows such as “The Office,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and “Heroes” will be available in high definition, along with movies such as The Fast and Furious, The Bourne Supremacy, 12 Monkeys, American Pie, The Mummy Returns, The Chronicles of Riddick and The Scorpion King.

Microsoft's Xbox Live has 12 million subscribers worldwide and claims a new member joins every five seconds. Since the Xbox 360 launch, consumers have spent more than $1 billion on Xbox Live. Users have downloaded more than a half billion pieces of content. Schappert said one-third of all paid U.S. Xbox Live downloads are movies and TV shows.

There are more than 10,000 movies and TV shows available on Xbox Live, which is the world's largest provider of on-demand HD movies and TV content — larger than any cable or satellite provider.

“There's no need to visit the video store or search through a pile of discs anymore,” Schappert said. “Xbox 360 offers more entertainment than any other device connected to your TV.”

Xbox Live Getting More Interactive

Microsoft is also focusing on claiming TV audiences by programming its own Xbox Live Prime Time this fall. Through a newly redesigned Xbox Live interface and an exclusive partnership with Endemol partnership, gamers will be able to play “1 vs 100” and compete for real prizes with thousands of other gamers.

“This is the world's first massively multiplayer game show,” Schappert said. “Play on the big stage or play from the crowd. A live host will provide play-by-play and even those who are in the audience can win prizes. This is just one example of how it's opening up Hollywood to Xbox Live. Instead of checking to see what's on TV, you turn on Xbox and check out what's on Live.”

Microsoft is also featuring Hollywood content in the exclusive new Scene It! Box Office Smash movie trivia game, which will be the first retail game to allow players to use their new avatars from Xbox Live. Additionally, Codemasters is bringing You're in the Movies exclusively to Xbox 360. The game ships with a Vision camera and allows people to make short, campy B-movies with friends and family through the pasting together of short mini-game clips.

It's Still About the Games

At the confab Microsoft also discussed exclusive games such as Gears of War 2 (due Nov. 7), Fable 2 (due in October) and the first exclusive expansion pack for Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV.

“We're so confident in our games that I'll say that Xbox 360 will sell more consoles worldwide this generation than PS3,” said Don Mattrick, SVP of interactive entertainment business, entertainment and devices division, Microsoft. “PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast that people will spend $48 billion on games this year worldwide. Games are bigger than DVD movie sales, box office and music. They're the biggest driver of all entertainment spending. Everyone is thriving — publishers, developers and retailers.”

Mattrick said online is the most exciting growth sector of the game industry, especially as gaming expands to the mass market and socializing has become part of the overall experience.

And when it comes to music, Microsoft announced that 3.5 million songs are downloaded on Xbox Live each month. Microsoft is getting a double dose of music games this fall.

EA is debuting Rock Band 2 exclusively for Xbox 360 this September. Activision, which has sold more than 5 million copies of Guitar Hero games on Xbox 360, is releasing Guitar Hero World Tour this fall across multiple platforms.

Kim also said that by the end of this year, there will be 1,000 games available for Xbox 360. In addition, three out of every four games for the console are rated Everyone or Teen.

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