Microsoft have been keeping a tight lid on things pre-E3 but, in a recent blog post, Corporate VP of Corporate Comms. Frank X. Shaw suggested that Microsoft might be focusing a little more on delivering a broader entertainment experience across all of their current devices 'and, of course, other devices to come'.
How very teasingly cryptic.
'The vision for Xbox is straightforward,' said Shaw in his post. 'All of the entertainment you want. With the people you care about. Made easy. That is why you’ve seen us invest in partnerships with ESPN, Netflix and Hulu. That is why we’ve baked social directly into the experience with Xbox LIVE – connecting gamers, friends and families across the globe. That is why you’ll see Xbox marketed more as an entertainment brand this year'.
According to Shaw, '40 percent of all Xbox activity now is non-game', which means that people are using the machine for other things like films and music. He cites the example of his daughter talking to the Xbox via Kinect during movies and ordering the box around. He maintains that the Xbox is 'central to entertainment'.
That's the news part of this post done...but it made me cross, there's some ranting underneath. Stop reading now if you like your news pure and radiant with objectivity.
Having seen this 'social baking' for myself, thanks to the Facebook and Twitter apps on Xbox LIVE, I think I can speak for most Xbox users when I say that they a lot to be desired. Last.fm is pretty good, but probably only because it would have taken a complete idiot to manage to screw up online radio.
If I sound cross, it's probably because I am. Microsoft continue to provide one service for the States, and a far poorer service to the rest of the world, UK included. Whereas Sony actively drive for localisation - iPlayer, ITV Player and 4OD? Yes please! - Microsoft seemingly abandon the region-related ship at the slightest hurdle and, as an investor in their 'entertainment system', it's pissing me off.
'But what about the Sky Player?' I hear you cry. Why the hell would you ever need it? Why wouldn't you just use the Sky box that you probably have anyway? Why should I have to pay a subscription on top of a subscription?! The only time I have ever used my Xbox for 'entertainment purposes' is to watch DVDs I already own (though now I have the deliciously upscaling PS3, that'll probably stop) , and that one time I medically needed to watch Top Gun and found my disc was scratched so got it (at an extortionate price) on demand!
I love my Xbox, don't get me wrong, it's my gaming console of choice every time for multiplats. But to tell me that it's optimised for entertainment outside of the US is frankly risible.