See how Microsoft is going Hollywood with Xbox Entertainment Studios

The horizontally oriented Xbox One.

Above: The Xbox One console.

Image Credit: Microsoft

GamesBeat: What about producing some programming that’s completely passive and not interactive? Would the consumer have the option to consume content that way?

Tellem: Absolutely. It’s a total option. It’s going to take time for people to understand that they have that option. That’s where we start with the content and make sure that it stands on its own and is something that’s really engaging. That’s a challenge. It’s not easy to attain. And then, being able to offer this interactivity, so that if people want to go deeper, they have that opportunity.

Xbox Live user interface

Above: The Xbox Live user interface.

Image Credit: Microsoft

GamesBeat: Is there a mandate, though, on your side, to make sure there’s some interactivity?

Levin: It’s important to us. We try. There’s an effort made on everything. We haven’t yet rolled anything out. But I also don’t think we want to force things just because there’s some mandate. … People like to hear mandates. They like to hear those bold pronouncements — “This is our model. This is how we do what we do.” … We have to come to this with a lot of humility, a lot of appreciation for the fact that this is going to be very fluid. Things are going to change. We have to be able to adapt. Let’s not box ourselves in, no pun intended. That doesn’t make sense.

We’re going to prototype interactivity for everything. We may look at it and say, “This just doesn’t work.”

Tellem: We’re focused on the social community that naturally exists among Xbox Live users. To be able to share something on a [video on demand] basis with a friend in New York or Dublin or wherever … that alone is a unique experience. We’re looking very broadly or very specifically as it pertains to customizing features that will apply to a show.

You don’t want to have interactivity for interactivity’s sake. It has to make sense. It has to be organic to the piece. It can’t be a forcing function.

Levin: It can’t be cart leading the horse, where we feel like we’re doing this grand experimental thing, but we forgot to make the shows good. Not everything is going to work. That’s just the law of averages. But there’s an interactive budget for every single series. That budget is substantial. An interactive team is part of every single piece of series development. The commitment and the resources are there. As far as whether we choose to activate that or not, we’ll have to see.


Above: The Xbox One controller.

GamesBeat: Is the live-action gaming stuff going to be concurrent with all these mass-market TV shows? It sounds like the programs are going ahead of the gaming stuff.

Tellem: Let’s go back on what you said. Our core audience appear to be gamers, but we also have non-gamers on our platform. When you look at the household, the significant others or whatever, other people are using the platform as well. We’re looking at the overall millennial audience. Obviously, it’s heavily weighted toward gamers, but gamers are no different from what we call millennial men. I think there’s a lot of similarity. There isn’t any uniqueness to a gamer as far as what they like in entertainment.

Levin: We’ve done a lot of research to bear that out because there have been a lot of conversations about that psychographic and what they watch as opposed to others. When you’re talking about gamers, you’re talking about younger men for the most part.

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