Xbox Live goes to Hollywood

Microsoft Games Studios General Manager Shane Kim brought Xbox Live Group Marketing Manager Aaron Greenberg 'round the GamesRadar offices to announce a shockingly rad addition to Xbox Live functionality. On November 22, you'll be able to download both movies and television shows in brilliantly clear high definition (or standard definition, if you prefer). While Microsoft is not prepared to talk about the price of the new media download service, they have an idea of how the movie and TV show pricing models will work - TV shows will be "download to own" deals while movies will follow a rental model that will enable you to keep a movie for 14 days until you start watching it (after that, you have 24 hours to watch the whole thing).

Here's how it'll work: you access the movies and TV shows through Xbox Live Marketplace just like you would any other downloads (like XBL Arcade games, 360 game demos or trailers), then download them (again, just like any other Marketplace download). The same interruption rules apply to these downloads, so if you want to cue up a grip of shows to download, you can; and if you want to go online and play some Gears of War, the downloads will pause automatically and resume when you quit hogging all your bandwidth by fragging Locusts online. There will also be an option that enables you to start watching movies or shows before the entire download is complete.

Microsoft expects to have 1,000 hours of unique content by year's end, 200 hours of which will be pristine HD video. Already signed on to the service are Microsoft content partners CBS, Turner (including Cartoon Network, and, more importantly, Adult Swim), Warner Brothers, Paramount, Ultimate Fighting Championship and MTV (including VH-1, Nickelodeon, Spike TV and Comedy Central). Microsoft has specifically gone after the shows they think you'll want to see the most, and to quote Aaron Greenberg, "You're not going to see Sex in the City any time soon."

Of course, when asked about the PS3's free online service, Shane Kim had some choice words for competitor Sony: "Our free is better than their free... I mean, what's so free about a $600 console?"

November 6, 2006