[E3 2008] A Closer Look at the New Xbox Experience

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Aside from the Final Fantasy XIII coming to Xbox 360 bombshell, the headline announcement from Microsoft’s E3 press conference was the New Xbox Experience unveiling, a comprehensive, multifaceted retooling of the Xbox 360 interface and Xbox Live community.

When it launches in the fall, the New Xbox Experience will provide Xbox 360 owners with a host of exciting new features like customizable Avatars, an Xbox LIVE Primetime channel that brings game shows like “1 vs. 100” online and enables all Xbox Live users to become a contestant and vie for real prizes just like the real TV show, exclusive access to Netflix’s catalogue of downloadable movies and TV shows, and a new Live Party system that allows up to eight friends to setup a group and share photos, chat, watch movies and play games together online. And, of course, it’ll also completely revamp the Xbox 360’s UI, which is actually the upgrade I am most looking forward to.

Xbox Live Primetime sounds awesome, but personally I don’t do the whole movie download thing so the Netflix partnership isn’t a big deal for me. And to me the whole Avatar thing is such a blatant mishmash of the Wii’s Mii system and the PS3’s upcoming Home service. It comes off as Microsoft trying way too hard to play both sides and appeal to the casual audience, and I don’t like it. So yeah, the interface upgrade is what I want. The current bladed dashboard is total crap, in my honest opinion. Navigating the menus is so unbearably sluggish, just getting into my game library to play a demo or XBLA game is a pain in the ass. But the new interface, as you can see in the screenshots and trailer posted on the jump, looks much cleaner, crisper and, most importantly of all, zippier.

Microsoft has provided an extensive fact sheet overview of everything that’ll be included with the New Xbox Experience which I have posted after the break (along with the aforementioned trailer and screens) for you to read up on. Feel free to share your thoughts/likes/dislikes on the update.

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The New Xbox Experience Fact Sheet – July 2008

What Is It?
From the moment you turn on your Xbox 360 system, you’re invited into a limitless world of home entertainment — courtesy of the new Xbox experience. It’s a world where the best games, movies and TV shows live side by side with your personal pictures and music library, and the experience is ready to share anytime with friends in your living room or across the globe through Xbox LIVE. This new Xbox experience brings an inviting look and feel to Xbox 360 that is fun, social and simple to use.

The new Xbox experience is your entertainment experience. It delivers your entertainment when you want it, how you want it and with whom you want. In the mood for holding movie night on Sunday, being a game show contestant on Monday, catching up on episodes of your favorite TV show on Tuesday, hosting a party to show off your newest photos on Thursday, and playing some video games on Friday? It’s all possible through the new Xbox experience:

• Watch the theatrical cut of “Blade Runner” live with friends in your living room or across the U.S. with instant access to 10,000 movies from Netflix.
• Jump into a game of “1 vs. 100,” a new spin on the game show experience with instant at-home play, on the new Xbox LIVE channel, Xbox LIVE Primetime.
• Download “30 Rock” or “The Office,” as well as favorite standard and high-definition TV shows and movies from NBC Universal and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Enjoy more movies and TV shows on demand than on any other device connected to the TV — all via Xbox LIVE Video Store.
• Hear the real-time laughter of your friends and family when they see that picture of you in a Speedo in Hawaii during a LIVE online party you host.
• Tune your diva skills by playing “Lips,” engage in a massive online “Gears of War” campaign or download classic arcade games with the best and broadest lineup of video games available only from Xbox 360.

Plus, really make it your own with customizable, animated Avatars that let you literally jump into the world of Xbox 360. Just imagine, your Avatar, your friend’s Avatars and the Avatars of nearly 100 other Xbox LIVE members meeting face to face in a game of “1 vs. 100” on Xbox LIVE Primetime. Now every entertainment experience can be a shared social experience on Xbox 360, home of the best and broadest video games lineup and more movies and TV shows on demand than any other device connected to the TV.

What Are the New Features?
New features of the Xbox experience include the following:

Make it a Netflix night. Xbox 360 is the only game console to offer more than 10,000 feature films and television shows from Netflix, available instantly through Xbox LIVE and at no additional charge to all Xbox LIVE Gold members with a Netflix subscription.

Get ready for primetime. Xbox LIVE Primetime, a new channel on Xbox LIVE, transforms Xbox 360 entertainment. For the first time in video game history, people can come together on Xbox LIVE to play game shows such as “1 vs. 100” with real hosts, fresh content and prizes just like the games seen on TV. “1 vs. 100” comes from Endemol, the world’s largest independent production company and producers of the hit show “Deal or No Deal.” The game show “1 vs. 100” pits one player against “The Mob.” The player’s goal is to eliminate all the opposition by correctly answering questions, hoping that the opponents will answer incorrectly and be eliminated from the game.

Get the party started. Xbox 360 is the only device that allows you to create a virtual party with your friends with LIVE Party. Now, every experience is a shared experience. Play a game with up to eight friends. Voice chat while watching a movie or a favorite episode of “The Office.” Share pictures or play an online game show with the chance to win real prizes. The new Xbox experience makes entertainment an interactive event.

Express yourself. Personalize your entertainment like never before with a customizable, animated Avatar designed exclusively by the creative geniuses at Rare Ltd. Dress your Avatar and jump into a party with friends from around the world. Whether you assume an alter ego or just be yourself, your Avatar allows you to express yourself no matter where you go in the new experience.

Online entertainment center. The new Xbox 360 experience offers more online entertainment from one remote than you can find from any device that connects to the television. Xbox LIVE Marketplace is a one-stop digital download center for entertainment, including exclusive game demos and trailers as well as hours of downloadable music videos, movies, television shows and casual games.

How Do I Get It?
The new Xbox experience is available this fall through a free download to anyone with an Xbox 360 system, a broadband connection and a storage device of either a hard drive or 256MB memory unit or larger. Complete system requirements are available at http://xbox.com/live. It represents the first time in history that a mass-market consumer electronics device has been re-launched through free software, giving people more fun and intuitive ways to interact, play and enjoy entertainment content.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!