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Microsoft announced today that it is opening a new Xbox entertainment studio outside of Los Angeles to create “interactive content” for its Xbox game platform. While much of the traditional gaming world contracts, the move shows that Microsoft is prepared to invest in a new generation of games and entertainment to keep its Xbox platform strong.
The creation of the studio in Los Angeles also says a lot about the convergence of games and Hollywood as entertainment becomes more interactive in the digital age.
Yusuf Mehdi, the senior vice president of the game division at Microsoft, and Nancy Tellem, the entertainment and digital media president, made the announcement at the All Things D: Dive into Media industry event on Monday evening. They also shared new data on the momentum behind the Xbox 360 game console introduced in 2005. Rumors are rife that Microsoft will launch its code-named Durango console as a replacement.
The new studio headed by Tellem is called the Xbox Entertainment Studios, and it “will create visionary original interactive content.” It will also oversee live events, similar to last night’s live streaming of the Grammy Awards’ red carpet broadcast.
Mehdi said that Microsoft has sold 76 million Xbox 360 consoles around the world to date. It has been the top console in the U.S. for 24 consecutive months, and it has sold more than three times the number of original Xbox consoles. About 24 million Kinect motion sensors have been sold since 2010, and the Xbox Live community has grown to 46 million subscribers, up 15 percent year over year.
In 2012, the number of TV and entertainment offerings on Xbox almost tripled, with 100 voice-controlled Xbox Live apps. It was the biggest year for Xbox games and entertainment usage, with 18 billion hours of entertainment consumed, up 10 percent from a year ago.
The average user spends 87 hours of entertainment a month on Xbox, up 10 percent. Entertainment app usage is up 57 percent over a year ago, and online multiplayer gaming also grew in 2012.
According to third-party data from the Experian Simmons Spring 2012 Media survey, about 38 percent of the Xbox Live audience in the U.S. is female, and 54 percent of the Xbox Live community in the U.S. has at least one or more child in the household. Since July, Microsoft says the Xbox Live community has burned 200 million calories using Xbox and Kinect for workouts and activities such as Kinect Nike+ Fitness, other workout programs, and games.
And Microsoft said family content consumption on Xbox Video has grown 400 percent year over year; The Hunger Games film broke the record for biggest opening day in Xbox history when it launched on Xbox Live.