Microsoft has long held ambitious plans to turn its games console into a media hub delivering masses of content of all kinds into people’s living rooms. With Xbox Originals, it may be on its way to realizing this dream. Unfortunately, while the initiative has a lot of promise, the details leave a lot of room for disappointment.
Microsoft has announced the initial lineup for Xbox Originals, its first foray into original programming. Committed projects include a Halo TV show, Every Street United, an unscripted show featuring famous soccer players, and Humans, a show about robotic servants.
There are further projects in development that may or may not make it past the pilot stage. These include Deadlands, based on a pen-and-paper RPG, Gun Machine, a detective thriller based on the novel by Warren Ellis, and Winterworld, based on Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino’s series of graphic novels.
It’s All In The Details
Beyond the announcement of 12 shows, the Xbox Originals strategy appears to be a little confused and confusing. Most shows will be behind the paywall that is Xbox Live Gold, while others may be available to all. Some shows will only be aired on the Xbox, while others will also appear on television.
The rollout of these Xbox Originals also appears to be taking a long time. The Halo television series being executive-produced by Steven Spielberg was announced 12 months ago, but there has been no update on progress.
Xbox Entertainment Studios chief Nancy Tellem told Re/code, “We believe that if we’re going to create a show that does justice to the Halo franchise, we had better do it right. We are on the right track, and putting together a talented team.” But there surely comes a point at which people stop caring.
Tellem also broached the subject of monetization, though even on this point none of the details seem to have been fully worked out.
She said, “We’ll be experimenting with a lot of different ways we monetize the content. That’s one of the challenges. The fun is figuring out what the business model and strategy will be. We’re doing it on a case by case basis, depending on the show.” Fun is one word for it, but not the word most (potential) viewers would use.
Microsoft is brave to embark on the Xbox Originals journey, but its strategy seems to be a little scattergun at present. The content will need to be brilliant if it’s to compete with Netflix Originals such as House Of Cards and Arrested Development, and that certainly isn’t guaranteed at this point in time.