Microsoft kicked off this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with a bang, announcing a plethora of additions and improvements for the Xbox 360. Outside of some great new game announcements including Halo: Reach and revolutionary interactive 3D gaming advancements in the form of Project Natal, the Live network also had some news.
The Xbox Live gaming network, in and of itself the biggest social network on TV, is getting a little bit more sociable, adding popular online services and boosting the Xbox movie experience with Live Party, which essentially allows friends to share their movie experience through the Live network, watching, commenting and interacting in unison via their avatars. (Unfortunately, the smell of fresh popcorn cannot be shared).
Both Facebook and social-music site Last.fm will be customised for your TV screen through Xbox Live – not only will gamers be able to update their Facebook status, but they can post screenshots of their games progress and use Facebook Connect to post scores from participating games.
Music lovers will be able to stream music from their Last.fm account as they do online, creating custom radio stations by artist or genre.
"By bringing Facebook, Last.fm and Xbox LIVE Party for movies and TV shows to Xbox LIVE, we’re not only extending the walls of your living room beyond your home to your friends in different corners of the world, we’re creating the definitive social network, uniting more than 200 million people to share status updates, pictures, thoughts on music and the world’s best online gaming experience," said John Schappert, corporate vice-president of Interactive Entertainment Live, Software and Studios at Microsoft.
Microsoft also said that it will more than double the number of markets where Xbox Live offers its TV shows and movies, growing from eight to 18, by adding Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Xbox LIVE members in these markets will have access to instant on 1080p video.
For Ireland, the UK and US specifically, users will be able to watch movies streamed straight from Netflix and a deal with BSkyB has meant that users here can watch live or on-demand TV on their Xbox 360 including Sky Sports.
By Marie Boran
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