E3 2008

E3 2008: Microsoft 'Completely Reinvents" Xbox 360

| 14 Jul 2008 20:44

Microsoft plans to "completely reinvent" the Xbox 360 by overhauling the dashboard, introducing Mii-like avatars and partnering with movie rental house Netflix.

The new dashboard is, as described by Microsoft's John Schappert, "more fun, more social, and easier to use." Your Gamercard will also now sport your very own avatar, for which there will be plenty of hair, face, and clothing choices. How well hardcore Gears of War and Halo fans embrace the cartoony avatars remains to be seen, but I doubt it will be as smooth a transition as Microsoft might hope.

Mii-copying aside, the dashboard overhaul does come with some nifty features, including Live Party, which allows up to eight friends to form a Party and do whatever they like -- play games, chat, share photos, whatever. It seems to be quite easy not only to form parties, but also to move them from activity to activity, certainly far easier than it is now.

Parties will also be able to take advantage of Microsoft's partnership with Netflix to watch movies and TV shows together, which I could definitely see catching on. Everyone with a Live membership will apparently also have a Netflix membership, at least on a limited scale. Details on just how exactly that works - can you watch Netflix movies on your PC in addition to your 360? - will be coming soon.

Schappert also mentioned Xbox Live Primetime, which is a channel "where hundreds of people can star in their own game shows." The example he gave was 1 vs. 100, in which you (via your oh so adorable avatar) could be the 1, part of the 100, or simply part of the audience. Squaring off against the Xbox community in a game show could be great fun, or it could devolve into a bunch of thirteen year olds hurling racist epithets. We shall see.

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