Microsoft Claims 2.5 Mil. Downloads for Its Avatar-Driven Xbox Interactive TV Show, "1 vs. 100 Live"

--Endemol Considering Interactive TV Poker Show for Xbox Live

Microsoft said Monday that "1 vs. 100 Live," the avatar-driven interactive TV version of the Endemol-developed "1 vs. 100" game show format that it beta launched on its Xbox Live service this spring, is proving highly popular, having been downloaded by over 2.5 million people (which makes it one of the top-10 Xbox Live content downloads to date), and with up to 200,000 people around the world playing it every day. In one evening alone, the company says, over 215,000 people in Europe and 230,000 in North America "dressed their avatars" to participate in the interactive game show. In addition, it says, up to 114,000 contestants have competed simultaneously in "1 vs. 100 Live" shows in North America "effectively beating the Guinness Book of World Records holder in the 'most game show contestants--single TV show' category"; and up to 79,000 have competed simultaneously in "1 vs. 100 Live" shows in the UK and Ireland.

When it was beta-launched last May, "1 vs. 100 Live" was billed as the first game for a new service called Xbox Live Primetime, that will allow subscribers to the Xbox Live online entertainment network to use their Xbox 360 gaming consoles to participate--via their personalized Xbox Live avatars--in live, TV-style, interactive "virtual game shows." Like a regular linear-TV game show, "1 vs. 100 Live" has real hosts (albeit represented via avatars), airs in regularly scheduled timeslots, has seasons, includes commercial breaks, and allows participants to win prizes, including Microsoft Points, which can be redeemed for Xbox Live content downloads (note: according to Microsoft, "1 vs. 100 Live" contestants have won over a million Microsoft Points to date, as well as cars and home theater equipment). The "1 vs. 100" format features a single contestant (the "one") competing against 100 other contestants (the "mob") to correctly answer multiple-choice trivia questions: each question is first posed to the "mob" (outside of the "one's" hearing), so that they can lock in their answers, and is then posed to the "one." If the "one" answers the question correctly, all the members of the "mob" who answered it incorrectly are eliminated. In the Xbox live version of the format, the "one" wins Microsoft Points for each correct answer and, if he or she succeeds in eliminating all the members of the mob, he or she can win up to 10,000 Microsoft Points. Individual members of the "mob," meanwhile, can win prizes (including Microsoft Points and Xbox Live arcade games) for answering questions correctly, outlasting the majority of their fellow "mob" members, and outlasting the "one." Xbox Live subscribers who want to participate in one of the show's live episodes are selected to play as the "one," as members of the "mob," or as mere audience members, based on how frequently and how well they play the live and practice versions of the show.

Microsoft, which plans to launch "1 vs. 100 Live" commercially next spring (it will be included as part of the Gold Xbox Live membership level), says that it has extended the show's "beta season" by two weeks, with additional episodes airing August 22nd, 26th, 28th and 29th, and with the show's season finale airing August 29th in North America, the UK and Ireland, and August 30th in Germany and France (note: the show's practice games, which do not feature a live host, will be available through September 13th).

At the Edinburgh Interactive Festival last week, Peter Cowley, Endemol UK's managing director of digital media, revealed that the company is currently considering developing a poker game for Xbox Live Primetime.

In other Microsoft news: Ashley Highfield, managing director of consumer and online at the company's UK arm, revealed to The Guardian Monday that the full-episode MSN Video Player which launched in the UK earlier this month (see article published on, July 30th) and which features older content--in contrast to the newer content offered by the "catch-up" online VOD services that have already proven highly popular in the UK--had generated 167,487 views in its first 11 days, and attracted 154,841 users to the Web site where it is located. He added that the most popular shows so far have been "Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind," "How to Look Good Naked," "Peep Show," "That Mitchell and Webb Look" and "The Young Ones." "We are very happy with the first numbers--it is a very encouraging start," Highfield told the newspaper. "There is still a strong feeling [in the market] that, while catch-up TV works, no one wants older programs. One motivation behind the MSN Video pilot is to see the demand for programs outside the catch-up TV window." By way of comparison, the BBC iPlayer, which was much more heavily marketed than the new Microsoft service, generated 359,000 streams and downloads in its first week (it launched in late 2007), and 850,000 in its first two weeks.

North America