Gaming platform Xbox is jumping into the fray of the long-form programming market, following other non-traditional TV platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Yahoo.
Starting this June, available only on Xbox 360, Xbox One and other Microsoft devices, every Xbox Originals show will offer interactive capabilities, as well as unique interactive features customised on a per-show basis, making it a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience.
Xbox Entertainment Studios has attracted a slew of top Hollywood talent to develop its original programming slate, with names like Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott attached to two separate scripted projects based on the Halo franchise. Other shows in production include an unscripted series about international street soccer, an original drama about robotic servants in a dystopian world, and a documentary about the search for discarded Atari games in a desert landfill – which were unearthed on April 28 in New Mexico – amongst several others.
“We are developing premium, original content for the Xbox community which is an audience we are incredibly respectful of,” said Nancy Tellem, President of Xbox Entertainment Studios. “We believe Xbox Originals should embrace the way our fans think about traditional TV.” Tellem’s creative vision involves year-round, high-quality programmes based on subjects gamers care about, with interactive features tailored to each show.
Xbox hopes that Xbox Originals will provide incentive for fans to make the Xbox their all-in-one entertainment device. In the eyes of the Xbox Entertainment Studios team, original shows aren’t a departure, but rather an extension of what Microsoft Studios has been doing for years with first-party game development.
“Microsoft has a long and rich legacy in the content business,” said Jordan Levin, Executive Vice President of Xbox Entertainment Studios. “Games have been part of our DNA for at least the last 15 years, and creating original TV content is a logical next step in our evolution.”
According to Tellem, bringing together the most forward-thinking minds at Microsoft with the most creative minds in entertainment is how Xbox Entertainment Studios is betting on success. Gaming is the heart and soul of the Xbox platform, and the objective of Xbox Originals is to bring more value to fans, Tellem said.
“I know full well from my years spent at traditional TV networks that creating a line-up of hit shows isn’t easy. It’s the beginning of a long journey, but we’re incredibly excited to be on our way,” Tellem said.
The Xbox Originals line-up covers a wide array of subjects and formats, both scripted and unscripted. Many projects are already in production and have set release dates, while some are still in the early development stages.
Halo television series
The Halo television series is a groundbreaking original series based on the award-winningHalo franchise. Award-winning filmmaker, director and producer Steven Spielberg will executive produce the live-action TV series, created in partnership with 343 Industries and Amblin Television.
Every Street United
Every Street United is an unscripted series of eight, thirty-minute episodes and a one-hour finale, featuring legendary soccer players Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids, focused on the global search for soccer’s most gifted and undiscovered street stars scouted across eight countries (United States, England, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, Ghana and South Korea). The series culminates this July in a 4v4 street game finale in the shadow of the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
Each episode will feature unique and incisive narratives about the grassroots street stars and the communities that shaped them. Industry veteran and eight-time Emmy-Award winning producer, director, writer and editor Jonathan Hock (Streetball, 30 for 30: The Best That Never Was) is directing the series. Emmy-Award winning producer Mike Tollin and Mandalay Sports Media are executive producing. Professional soccer luminaries, Henry and Davids, will serve as coaches for the 4v4 street game in Rio. Every Street United will premiere in June 2014. All episodes will be available through Xbox Video for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8 (PC and Surface) and Windows Phone 8.
Xbox owners around the globe can experience the magic of the 13th annual Bonnaroo music and arts festival with a live concert destination on Xbox Live Friday, June 13 through Sunday, June 15, 2014, brought to viewers in partnership with Superfly Presents. With the Bonnaroo app, fans can enjoy live music like never before, with a virtual experience featuring the best performances, multiple stages, biggest artists and amazing SuperJams, and explore this year’s lineup to see the best of Bonnaroo’s past with exclusive performances. Fans can also join the conversation with fellow virtual-Bonnaroovians and get connected to their friends and the festival. Xbox is the exclusive broadcasting partner for Bonnaroo and the only location to get all of the interactive features.
Signal to Noise / Atari: Game Over
Xbox is creating a new six film documentary series, Signal to Noise (working title), with two-time Academy Award winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire) and Emmy winning producer Jonathan Chinn (FX’s 30 Days and PBS’s American High), through their multi-platform media company, Lightbox. The series will expose little known stories of how modern technology has radically altered the way we interact with our world.
The first instalment, Atari: Game Over (working title), explores the fabled Atari mystery, dubbed “The Great Video Game Burial of 1983”. As the legend goes, the Atari Corporation, faced with overwhelmingly negative response to the E.T. video game, disposed of millions of unsold game cartridges by burying them in the small town of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Fuel Entertainment took an interest in the legend, and in December 2013, with help from local garbage contractor Joe Lewandowski, acquired the exclusive rights to excavate the Alamogordo landfill. Fuel Entertainment then brought the opportunity to Xbox Entertainment Studios. The team will head to the landfill in question to determine if the story is true, interviewing a cast of characters related to the game and its mystery along the way. Atari: Game Over is directed by writer/director Zak Penn (X-Men 2, Avengers, and Incident at Loch Ness). It will air exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 in 2014.
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