Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Best News at E3: Microsoft to Provide Live Television on XBox 360


COMMENTARY | I'll admit it: I am Playstation loyalist and have yet to drink the Xbox 360 Kool-Aid.

The developments on Wednesday at E3 may have finally forced me to change my stance, though.

While Sony is busy figuring out how to buy its customers back in order to make up for the debacle that took place when the PSN system was hacked in April, XBOX has been busy adding substance to its already powerful gaming experience. From a business standpoint, each gaming system has marketed itself somewhat differently. Playstation 3 has been advertised as a one-stop shop for entertainment to include Blue-Ray playback capability. Microsoft's XBOX 360 has been showcased specifically as a gaming-first machine that is rich in substance when it comes to the core of its purpose, which is to provide the best gaming experience among the home consoles.

At E3 Wednesday, Microsoft took a leap forward in cementing itself as the industry leader on both ends of the spectrum by announcing its intent to provide live TV beginning this fall.

As with many E3 announcements, only minor pieces of information are available, but it is by design that much is left up to speculation. That is certainly the fun part of any major announcement at the conference. The most substantial piece of information out is that AT&T has confirmed that U-Verse will be available on the Xbox 360. New and existing subscribers will be able to order a kit for $99.00 beginning Oct. 15. As a U-Verse subscriber, the prospect of integrating my DVR with my gaming system is exciting and something that may be the final push I needed in getting the system.

I hate clutter, and the more I can consolidate my entertainment into one machine, the better. The ability to use a home console as a set-top box, in my opinion, is the most exciting announcement at this year's E3. The best thing about unprecedented strides forward such as this is that it drives competition and forces companies to try to 1-up each another. This bodes well for the consumer, as better technology is introduced more quickly.

What will be interesting is to see what Sony's response will be to the announcement. Without question, the company is already brainstorming how to provide a similar service. It may work to Sony's advantage to let Xbox be the guinea pig here, and then improve upon any faults Microsoft runs into this fall.

Obviously there will be many questions; the first is how substantial the viewing experience will be, and whether or not it will be a truly capable replacement for the receiver. Even though all of these and many more questions remain, the news is certainly welcome and a great positive step in the gaming industry.


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