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If you're an aging Gen Y'er like me, you probably remember playing Super Mario Brothers on your brand spanking new Nintendo and thinking that technology just couldn't get much better. Fast forward. Today's gaming devices put Ataris, Nintendos and Segas to shame and thanks to the internet, the gaming experience is more interactive and social than ever before.
And if a new initiative from Microsoft and Endemol is any indication, today's gaming experience is only going to get more interactive and social.
This Friday, Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers in the UK ages 18 and up will be able to participate in what Microsoft is billing as the "largest interactive gameshow in the world". The Redmond software giant has teamed up with entertainment giant Endemol to bring a virtual version of the 1 vs 100 gameshow to Xbox LIVE gamers.
1 vs 100, which airs in numerous countries, pits one person against 100 others in a battle for prizes. With the Xbox LIVE version of 1 vs 100, selected contestants from amongst the ranks of Xbox LIVE subscribers will be able to put their skills to the test in virtual battles that can yield some very real prizes, including a brand new Fiat 500.
In North America, Microsoft's beta of 1 vs 100 has apparently been well-received, although skill-based prizes are not yet available. In the UK Beta Season 1, which starts Friday, contestants will be able to win skill-based prizes starting in the second week of competition.
When Yahoo Games reviewed the 1 vs 100 game for Xbox 360, it stated:
Cost issues aside, when "1 vs. 100" launches proper, the prizes on offer could attract a whole new kind of consumer to Xbox 360. The top prize mooted is a new car, with second tier offerings including HD TVs and thousands of Microsoft Points (Xbox LIVE currency) to spend on game upgrades, movie rentals etc.
We found it very hard to put down the controller, even without real-prizes to play for in our Press Day play test. It may be going too far to say that "1 vs. 100" will revolutionise primetime entertainment in the UK, but given the right kind of publicity, Microsoft could really have a winner on its hands.
While claiming that 1 vs 100 on Xbox LIVE is going to revolutionize primetime entertainment may be going too far, predicting that it shows us what the future of gaming will look like may not be.
The interactivity and social components Microsoft and Endemol are offering here represent a new frontier in gaming that is likely to resonate with consumers, especially given the prize component. Furthermore and perhaps most importantly, it's not too difficult to see a robust business model here. Microsoft promotes console sales and with prizes, gives consumers a good reason to justify an Xbox LIVE subscriptions. Endemol is almost certainly being compensated via some sort of licensing arrangement and it also gets to introduce the 1 vs 100 brand to more consumers. To boot, there are probably plenty of sponsorship-style opportunities for these sorts of games as well.
In short, it appears Microsoft has a win-win-win proposition on its hands. Fortunately for the gaming industry as a whole, it undoubtedly won't be the only one.
Photo credit: Fanchile via Flickr.