Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Move over iTunes

Move over bacon, there's something leaner - Yesterday Microsoft made a major announcement that it is partnering up with a number of networks and movie studios that will make full blown movies (not just trailers) and TV shows downloadable on Xbox Live. Here's it is straight from the horses (Microsoft's) mouth because its too hard for me to paraphrase.

"Microsoft Corp. today announced agreements with CBS, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. (TBS Inc.), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to bring an initial lineup of over 1,000 hours of hit TV shows and movies to Xbox 360 gamers in the U.S. by the end of the year. Furthermore, Xbox 360 will be the first gaming console to bring standard and high-definition TV shows and movies via digital distribution over the Internet directly to the consumer.

Beginning Nov. 22, on its first anniversary, Xbox 360 will be the first gaming console in history to provide high-definition TV shows and movies directly to gamers in their living rooms. Xbox 360 gamers will have access to the full-length TV shows as downloads to own and movies to rent via download from the Xbox Live network, the worldwide leader in online distribution of high-definition gaming and entertainment content. This announcement also brings with it several additional “firsts”:

· For the first time, consumers will get an integrated gaming and entertainment experience on a gaming console that includes downloadable high-definition TV shows and movies. This new full-length content adds to the ever-expanding number of choices gamers have on their Xbox 360, whether they want to play games or play a movie on a disc or as a download in high definition or standard definition.
· For the first time CBS will deliver high-definition download-to-own TV shows including “CSI,” “ Jericho ,” “Numb3rs” and remastered “Star Trek” episodes
(Yippee for us Star Trek nerds!); gamers can buy them and watch them repeatedly.
· For the first time on any platform, NASCAR.COM will deliver download-to-own condensed versions of select NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races from “Race Rewind.”
· For the first time, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will make 50 of its most intense fights available for download as well as select episodes from the original season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.

The initial lineup of TV shows available for download to own and feature films available for download to rent will include a growing catalog of popular hits. Examples of content that will be available on the network by the end of year include the following:

· “Robot Chicken” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” from Adult Swim
· “CSI,” “Survivor” and “Star Trek” from CBS
· Emmy and Peabody award-winning “ South Park ” and “Chappelle’s Show” from COMEDY CENTRAL
· “The Real World” and “Pimp My Ride” from MTV
· “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and ”SpongeBob SquarePants” from Nickelodeon
· “Skyland” and “The Nicktoons Network Animation Festival” from Nicktoons Network
· “Mission Impossible:III,” “Nacho Libre” and “Jackass: The Movie” from Paramount Pictures
· “Carpocalypse” and “Raising the Roofs” from Spike TV
· “Race Rewind” provided by NASCAR.COM
· Select episodes of the original season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series and the “UFC: All Access” shows from the UFC
· “Breaking Bonaduce” and “Hogan Knows Best” from VH1
· “The Matrix,” “Superman Returns” and “Batman Forever” from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment"

All I could think of after reading that was...Holy Guano Batman! I've heard how gaming consoles were supposed to be the center of your living room (I first heard this through some Sony hype with the PS2) but now its starting to become a reality. Downloadable TV and movies? To quote Kevin Bacon in Footloose - Jump back! Now that is sweet. The Microsoft Zune, Bill Gates' answer to the iPod comes out later this month. Think there's a chance that there might be some Zune/Xbox 360 connectivity? You bet your controller there is.

As a gamer, this is another shot across the bow for Sony and just another reason (aside from price point and limited availabilty) for a gamer who's undecided to choose a 360. I'm actually surprised I'm not seeing commercials for this already because this is such a huge selling point for Microsoft.

Let me put it this way. I have an iPod, so I use iTunes. I download TV shows and music but if I can do the exact same thing with my gaming console - something that connects my favorite TV programs, favorite Kevin Federline songs and my video games - there's no way I can resist. All of my favorite things in one place? Wow. Again...Wow! Now if Microsoft can figure out a way to take that downloaded content and burn it onto a disc...I'd probably throw up in my mouth.

Who do I have to kill to get Cyberball? - Also on Monday, Microsoft made some announcements about upcoming Xbox Live Arcade titles. On Wednesday Nov. 8, the Konami classic "Contra" (no it has nothing to do with Ronald Reagan or Manuel Noriega and yes I just dated myself with that vague 80's reference) is available for 400 Microsoft Points. Coming out between now and Christmas are "Small Arms", "Novadrome", "Assault Heroes", "Heavy Weapon" and "Defender".

Starting in January 2007, a number of classic Atari games - "Centipede/Millipede", "Battlezone", "Asteroids/Asteroids Deluxe", "Missle Command", "Tempest" and "Warlords" will be released throughout the year.

Of course, you may have noticed that the Atari classic "Cyberball", the greatest robots-playing-football game ever made, is once again not on this list. This is an outrage! A white-gloved (but no sequence please) slap in the face! I strongly recommend that everyone emails Atari at us.pr@atari.com and urge this trend setting gaming company to put one of the most addictive games ever on Xbox Live Arcade immediately. This is an injustice to everyone who calls themselves a gamer. I may just have to start picketing Atari corporate offices with signs that read "Robot football players need love too" or "Give me Cyberball or give me death...but preferably Cyberball!"


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