TOKYO: Microsoft will follow its Steven Spielberg collaboration with more television projects aimed at positioning its new Xbox games console as a home entertainment hub.
Microsoft and rivals Sony and Nintendo have broadened the scope of games consoles by giving users the ability to play games whilst watching television, listening to music or communicating via video phone.
Microsoft’s Xbox One console, unveiled in May, will be released in tandem with a Spielberg-produced television series based on the Halo game series.
“We are very close” to announcing similar projects before year-end, said Microsoft Studios vice president Phil Spencer in an interview in Tokyo.
There will also be Xbox One-exclusive television content unrelated to games, “but I do think there will be a certain level of interactivity to what we do.”
Spencer called new television projects as “Nancy projects,” in reference to former CBS Television Studios President Nancy Tellem whom Microsoft hired a year ago as head of entertainment and digital media.
Microsoft’s foray into television could prompt third-party game developers to provide similar content, Spencer said, who will attend the Tokyo Game Show beginning.
The Xbox One replaces the Xbox 360 released eight years earlier and will go on sale in the US and 12 other countries in November for $499. It will clash with Sony’s Playstation 4 which at $100 less will go on sale a week earlier in the US and week later in Europe. Nintendo released its latest offering, the Wii U, last year.
Sony in August said it had received 1 million preorders for its new console. Spencer declined to say how many preorders Microsoft has for the Xbox One, saying only that pre-launch demand has exceeded both that of the first Xbox and the Xbox 360.
Gamers in Japan will have to wait longer for both the Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Sony plans to release the Playstation 4 in Japan on Feb 22. Microsoft so far is saying some time next year as it completes work on a Japanese operating system.