Microsoft Xbox Live subscribers could see original Xbox programming as early as the first quarter of 2014. The news came yesterday by way of a Variety Dealmakers Breakfast appearance by Microsoft's president of entertainment and digital Nancy Tellem. She delivered a few details and a progress report for the company's original programming initiative first announced in February of this year.
Tellem described an atmosphere of change in the gaming console industry and highlighted a trend towards consolidation of programming and gaming in the console. As such, the various limbs of the various industries are still figuring out how to coalesce. There's an atmosphere of uncertainty, Tellem said, but "as we continue to do deals everyone's going to get more comfortable."
Tellem gave no indication of any change with regards to Microsoft's partnership with Steven Spielberg to produce and direct a Halo-centric "interactive" live-action series. We also didn't receive details about what exactly "interactive" means here. For example, would it mean something as simple as being able to select your own convenient time to watch? Or would it entail something more impressive like a Choose Your Own Adventure-style format in which users can make choices for characters, affecting the outcome of the story?
In any case, it is confirmed that original programming will be aimed at both Xbox One and Xbox 360 users through Xbox Live. The initiative follows in the footsteps of companies like Netflix and Amazon, both of which are still new to the original programming era but still well ahead of Microsoft. Xbox programming was originally estimated to launch by the end of this year. Now the earliest we can expect it is Q1 2014, or "at minimum second quarter," Tellem said.
Rest assured Microsoft is serious about original programming. Tellem is a TV exec by trade, not a gaming maven. Spielberg is, well, Spielberg. And the Los Angeles-based studio doing the heavy production work for future shows employs 125 people at last count.