E3 Daily Dispatch: Microsoft to Introduce Live TV and Voice-Controlled Entertainment to Xbox 360; Ubisoft Offers Free Tom Clancy Online Game

8:59 PM PST 06/08/2011 by John Gaudiosi

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution has created an original digital series, “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,” and the Entertainment Software Association president talks about the importance of video games in entertainment.

E3: Microsoft to Introduce Live TV and Voice-Controlled Entertainment to Xbox 360 This Year

While the main focus of Microsoft's E3 press conference at the USC Galen Center was on big games like Actvision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Epic Games' Gears of War 3, and next fall's Halo 4; the game maker announced new ways for its 35 million Xbox Live gamers to watch and interact with television, movies, music and games online.

"We are forging new partnerships to bring live television to Xbox Live in the United States and around the world, adding to our current partnerships with Sky TV in the U.K., Canal Plus in France and Foxtel in Australia," said Marc Whitten, corporate vp at Xbox Live.

Launching later this year, Whitten's presentation featured Xbox Live graphics that had ABC TV shows available on Xbox Live. Whitten said specific partnerships will be announced later. Gamers can already watch live ESPN sports programming on Xbox Live, a feature that was announced at last year's E3.

Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White took the stage to announce that UFC Xbox Live will launch this holiday. The new service will allow gamers to vote on all aspects of a live fight as they watch it and then see the results.

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E3: Ubisoft Targets Mainstream Gamers with Free Tom Clancy Online Game

Ubisoft's relationship with bestselling author Tom Clancy has been very lucrative for the French game publisher. The French game publisher has sold more than 63 million Tom Clancy video games since Tom Clancy's Politika launched in 1997. Video games like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Tom Clancy's EndWar and Tom Clancy's HAWX have connected the Clancy brand with a diverse male gaming demographic and helped catapult Ubisoft to a top-tier publisher. Now the publisher is targeting an even broader audience with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online, the first free-to-play online PC game,which is playable at E3 this week.
 
Ghost Recon Online introduces first-person shooting action set within a near-future world. Players will traverse global hot spots like Moscow and engage in eight-player versus eight-player shooting action. The new game will feature the elite U.S. military warriors known as the Ghosts, because they can get in behind enemy lines, take out key targets, and then disappear.
 
"The shooter genre is a very crowded space and we believe this game offers something unique to fans of the genre," said Theo Sanders, the creative director of Ghost Recon Online. "There's no barrier to entry, which means it's easy for gamers to get into the game with their friends and have a social experience."

The game, which is the first project completely developed at Ubisoft's Singapore studio, will launch later this year.
 
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'Mortal Kombat: Legacy' Opens New Digital Distribution Door for Game-Based Entertainment

In a first for the video game industry, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution created an original digital series, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, to promote the ninth game in the Mortal Kombat video game franchise. The end result was a win-win for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Youtube, and gamers.
 
The first episode of the nine-part series premiered to mjore than 5 million views on Youtube in its first week. The series generated more than 15 million views in its first month. And the new Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 video game from developer NetherRealm Studios sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. alone during that time, according to the NPD Group. The game has sold over 1.6 million copies worldwide to date.
 
As game publishers and developers head into E3, they now have a new marketing avenue to connect directly with the gaming audience through cross-platform digital series likeLegacy. Hollywood director Kevin Tancharoen (Fame) believes this success shows that today's consumers, especially gamers, consume entertainment online through multiple points of entry, including video game consoles, tablets, smartphones, and the traditional PC.
 
"The whole digital distribution web series phenomenon is coming into a weird space now where you don't know what television is and you don't know what a digital series is anymore," said Tancharoen. "Everything that you digest media on is essentially connected to the Internet. I watch stuff on my PlayStation 3, but it's projected onto my television. I think it's very exciting because a Web series allows you to explore things that you wouldn't be allowed to do creatively in a traditional network format."

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ESA President Michael Gallagher Says Video Games Are the Bedrock of Entertainment

Over 45,000 video game industry professionals, including 4,500 journalists from around the globe, have gathered in Los Angeles this week for the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show. Michael Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association, the trade group that puts on the annual convention, said video games remain the bedrock of today's entertainment.

"Whether it's Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV or the last two Call of Duty games, the biggest blockbusters in entertainment remain in the video game industry," said Gallagher. "When you look at the investment, excitement, and innovation that goes on in the gaming space, it all starts here at the LA convention center at E3."

Last year's E3 show generated 12 billion media impressions, up from 10 billion the year before. This year, there's been an 18% uptick in international press attending the show. The ESA caps the amount of attendees and journalists who can attend the annual convention. But with live broadcasts of E3 press conferences on SpikeTV and G4 and game publishers streaming live feeds of E3 events around the globe, Gallagher said the trade show is reaching more people than ever before.

"The world's looking at LA now, whether it's journalists writing about new fall titles, or business transactions being made, or retailers placing orders for holiday titles," said Gallagher, who added that retailers placed more than $400 million in buy orders at E3 last year.

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