Microsoft is planning to boost the number of movies available for download on its Xbox Live Marketplace for Ireland from the present 30 or 40 films to up to 400 movies, in line with the US.
This will enable Microsoft to steal a march on Apple’s iTunes, which has yet to make movies available in Ireland.
Siliconrepublic.com has learned Microsoft is also planning to make TV content including popular programmes like Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy available for download later this year.
The country manager at Microsoft Ireland’s Entertainment and Devices Division, Orla Sheridan, said that the plans to boost movie availability to Irish Xbox users are “imminent” but she could not at this stage reveal a date.
She added that the intention is to bring the Xbox Live Marketplace experience for Irish Xbox owners in line with their North American counterparts.
Sheridan said the plans to launch TV content are proceeding but may be likely to come to fruition later this year.
Since December, Irish Xbox Live subscribers have been able to download and watch movies straight onto their Xbox 360 consoles with the Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store.
Both standard movies and high-definition versions are available for rent at the estimated retail price of €3 and €4.50 respectively.
Sheridan told siliconrepublic.com that Ireland represents one of the highest installed bases of the next generation of Xbox consoles, the Xbox Elite.
“Internationally there are 17.7 million consoles in the market today, of which 10 million are Xbox Live subscribers. Some 8.1 million copies of Halo 3 have been sold and this translates into 1.5 million matches of Halo 3 online every day.
She said that there are one million Xbox Live subscribers spread between Ireland and the UK.
“Microsoft is actively looking at all the factors that the modern person wants. It’s all about content at the moment, the way they want it best. The over-arching word we would use in our strategy is ‘choice’.
“Look at Xbox, you can download movies, buy DVDs or buy HD DVDs, it’s all about choice. All our research says consumers are more and more demanding. We believe the more open you make Xbox Live as an entity, the more you will allow people to get out of their games.
“The 15-24-year-old is a demanding person, they are a very handy generation who will get what they want. Of all the things they hold dear, music and games are the very top of the list,” Sheridan said.
She added that Microsoft is planning to launch XMA Games Studio 2.0 and make it available to as many colleges and universities around the world as possible to boost the creativity around gaming and allow young people to create careers in the gaming world.
“The more we free up code, the more content will be created out there. The games business is a very very competitive sector and games involve the same amount of production, time and development as movies. The more classes in universities and the more start-ups that can use XMA, the more people who can build a career in the games industry,” Sheridan explained.
By John Kennedy