Today, UFC for Xbox Live is, well, live in the US and Canada, letting UFC fans download the application that will allow them to get an in-depth UFC experience unlike anything previously available. While it's not creating any new content, the service will bring together all of the videos the UFC creates for its website and promotion in one place, while also allowing Xbox Live members to purchase pay-per-view fights to stream through their console without needing to deal with a cable company. We took the system for a spin with UFC 140 a few weeks back, and we can't see ourselves ever going back to traditional cable - as long as a few kinks are worked out.
Above: Picking fights is easy, and fun for even those who don't know the sport well
Purchasing the PPV was simple, using real money instead of forcing us to convert our cash into Microsoft Points first (something we pray continues to be a trend), but even after we locked ourselves in for the fight we had plenty to do before leaving the application. Each fight comes with plentiful video content showing off the weigh-ins, fighter interviews, and other promos, which gave us all the material we needed to make educated decisions when we picked the fight winners - which is easily the coolest part of the UFC on Xbox application. Picking winners was simple, and required very little work, and in no time we had posted our picks to Facebook and compared them to our friends' lists. After matches it would even tell us how many points we earned (since we could pick both the winner and the method of victory), as well as the points earned by our friends.
When it came to actually watching the fights we were extremely pleased with the quality. It streamed in HD without any problem, even as we used the internet and played games on other computers, and only lagged a few times. Those few times, however, were definitely troubling. It's not that the lag was bad, by any means, but really any lag of note is problematic in such a fast-paced sport. It didn't get in the way of our entertainment because it didn't lag any any important parts, but if we missed a knockout punch due to a hiccup we would have been furious. Hopefully Microsoft is able to improve its infrastructure in the coming months, because it would definitely stink to have this be an ongoing issue.
Above: Everything but the actual PPV is available even if you don't spend a dime
Small problems aside, there's no question: set-top boxes have been usurped when it comes to watching UFC pay-per-views. After using the slick interface we can't see ourselves ever going back, especially if Microsoft continues to update the application as it has said it will. We'll be checking it out again for UFC 141, which airs on December 30, and we'll be sure to keep you informed on how it improves moving forward. Personally, we're hoping for the promised Achievements and maybe recreations of fights with our Avatars, though we'll settle for just the first one.