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Imagine interactive Jeopardy on your television each night. Instead of yelling out the answers, you punch them into the television.

Microsoft has released 1 vs 100 on its Xbox Live platform and it’s a clone of the original TV show 1vs 100 where the wits of an individual are pitted against a mob. A few nights a week during primetime, there are shows running from 7 to 9pm lasting 30 minutes. A random member of the game playing audience is elected to be the “one”. There’s a live announcer who shouts out comments from the forums and tweets – “Happy Birthday to Bob!” and provides commentary on the action. See a trailer here.

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Massively Multiplayer Online Casual Games

Tens of thousands of people play concurrently, everyone answering questions and racking up points. Win enough points and Microsoft gives away prizes, in their monetary equivalent, for you to buy games, rent videos and listen to music.

I haven’t had this much fun watching TV in a long time. It’s an incredibly social experience with friend invitations present and voice chat enabled.

Ads run intermittently for Sprint, Microsoft and other companies – the same video ads you would see on television. Interestingly enough, these ads provide an authenticity to the experience that a less commercial game would not.

Additionally, you’ll find market research type questions in the game play. For example, “Whose advertisements contain the phrase ‘Can you hear me now’? (A) Verizon (B) AT&T (C) T-Mobile”.

Obviously, these elements allude to future revenue models.

More importantly, the entire project alludes to a new category of gaming, bringing the long term committment of a World of Warcraft to casual games on your television.

Internet on the television – contrasting the thinking of Sony, Sharp and Microsoft

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Compare this experience and forward thinking to the current mantras of television executives:

Sony’s stance is that consumers don’t want an Internet-like experience with their TVs, and we’re really not focused on bringing anything other than Internet video or widgets to our sets right now,” said Greg Belloni, a spokesman for Sony.”

and

“I don’t think that consumers are yet ready to access all content on the Internet on the TV,” said Bob Scaglione, senior vice president for marketing at the Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America

Both quoted from the New York Times, February 16, 2009

Battle for the living room

There’s a full-fledged battle for the living room with cable companies, telcos, game console manufacturers, TV manufacturers. The winners will garner billions of revenue by providing new services constructed from the experiences developed on the web, in this case avatars, combined with old familiar elements from television.

Xbox Live has 10M subscribers in the US, forming the third largest MSO in the US – a pretty powerful force. Apple is rumored to be developing an internet television, likely combining elements of iPhoto, iTunes store, Apple TV and iPhone gaming.

In the words of Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here won’t get you there”.

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