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商业 - 科技

微软要玩原创视频了

John Gaudiosi 2014年05月05日

Xbox娱乐工作室高管透露,微软公司正在制作用于在Xbox平台上播放的原创电视节目,包括纪录片、真人秀、游戏改编影视剧以及电视剧等,而交互性将是它的杀手锏之一。

    如今,微软(Microsoft)不仅要与索尼的任天堂游戏机在视频游戏领域竞争,还得像其他任何一家娱乐公司一样(当然视频游戏也是如今主要的娱乐方式之一),和电视网络、好莱坞电影以及奈飞(Netflix)、亚马逊(Amazon)、Hulu等其它各种娱乐方式争夺消费者有限的空闲时间。除了为自己开发了一系列专有游戏产品【如《光晕》(Halo)、《战争机器》(Gears of War )、《神鬼寓言》(Fable)等】之外,微软还专门为其Xbox 360和Xbox One游戏机开发了一系列原创视频同容,其中一些内容正是根据这些专有游戏开发出来的。

    在去年6月的E3视频游戏交易展上,史蒂芬•斯皮尔伯格宣布他将与微软和开发者343 Entertainment公司合作,推出《光晕》的真人版剧集,他本人将亲自挂帅担任制片。Xbox娱乐工作室的总裁南茜•特勒姆和副总裁乔丹•列文现在正在纽约市,让媒体采购者们抢先体验一下微软今年和明年将推出的部分原创视频内容。

    已经有消息表示,微软的原创剧集之一、六集纪录片《噪声信号》(Signal to Noise,暂定名)将由奥斯卡获奖制片人西蒙•金【代表作《寻找小糖人》(Searching for Sugar Man)】和艾美奖获奖制片人乔纳森•琴恩【代表作《30天》(30 Days)】担任制片。而微软的第一部电影《雅达利:游戏结束》( Atari: Game Over)将由《复仇者联盟》(The Avengers)的编剧萨克•潘执导,讲述的是挖掘新墨西州阿拉莫戈多一个垃圾填埋场的故事。雅达利游戏公司曾经在这里掩埋了数百万份没有销售出去的Atari 2600游戏机的E.T.视频游戏卡带。萨克•潘不仅拍摄了本周成功挖掘的现场,还将进入探讨雅达利游戏机的殒落对娱乐界的深入影响。特拉姆表示,这些剧集,包括一些探索MP3与丝绸之路的影响的电影,将于今年晚些时候面世。

    就像音乐已经以得完全数字化一样,所谓的80后、90后们已经不再死忠于任何传统网络。特拉姆和列文认为,Xbox平台凭借已经销售到全球各地的8500万台游戏机,在吸引这些口味千变万化、同时也是广告业最青睐的年轻受众上拥有特殊的优势。

    特拉姆说:“我们面临的挑战仍然没有变,那就是:如何产出能让受众产生共鸣的高质量的内容。我们的受众非常精明,也非常挑剔。现在可供他们娱乐的视频内容和游戏有很多,因此我们的任务特别具有挑战性。但是我们的平台上有4800万订阅用户(即Xbox Live的黄金会员和白银会员),他们已经知道如何与这些内容进行互动,因此我们在这方面具有独特的优势。制作优质内容和提供交互性都是我们走差异化道路的重要手段。”

    Xbox原创内容早期的一个重要的差异化手段就是它的交互性,因为玩家们已经习惯了同时开多个任务,并且与屏幕上的这些图像进行交互。列文表示,每当有显示方面的新点子出现的时候,交互团队都要进行一番脑力风暴,寻找提高交互性体验的机会,比如从“选择你自己的摄像头角度”到利用Xbox Kinect体感摄像头等。

    特勒姆说:“我们在哥伦比亚广播公司(CBS)的时候也想过一些很酷的交互性创意,但一般都是事后的点子,而不是一种整合式的体验。有了Xbox技术,我们就可以创造一种无缝的整合式体验。它既是有意义的,又是非强迫性的。如果你看看我们的平台,就会发现有包括亚马逊、Hulu、奈飞和eSports在内的很多选择,也有像Twith、YouTube之类的游戏视频应用以及各种游戏。”

    随着亚马逊、奈飞和Hulu等公司纷纷花费数十亿美元用来搞原创内容,微软则可以通过Xbox上的这些应用坐享其成。特拉姆表示,她的部门已经获得了必要的预算,以便为Xbox的受众开发原创编程内容。

    特拉姆指出:“Xbox有非常优质的受众,现在我们想要留住这些受众,还要让他们参与内容。每一套Xbox One系统都有一个Kinect摄像头。虽然它可能带来一些内生的隐私问题,或是家长控制的问题,但是如果你拥有一台Xbox游戏机,那么你就有了选怪性加入的机会。现在这种技术已经开发出来了,而且消费者已经可以利用这种技术。”

    Microsoft (MSFT) isn't just competing with Sony (SNE) and Nintendo in the videogame space these days. Like any entertainment company (and videogaming is one of the leading forms of entertainment today), it's fighting for the limited amount of free time consumers have to spend in today's digital world -- alongside television networks, Hollywood movie studios, and digital distribution services such as Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN), and Hulu. In addition to developing exclusive videogame franchises (Halo, Gears of War and Fable), Microsoft is also financing an entire slate of original video content for its Xbox 360 and Xbox One videogame consoles, some of which are based on these exclusive game franchises.

    Last June at the E3 videogame trade show, Steven Spielberg announced that he is executive producing a new live action Halo video series with Microsoft and developer 343 Entertainment. Now Xbox Entertainment Studios president Nancy Tellem and vice president Jordan Levin are in New York City giving media buyers a first taste of original programming for this year and next.

    News has already broken around one of Microsoft's original series, the six-part documentarySignal to Noise (working title) from Academy Award winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar Man) and Emmy winning producer Jonathan Chinn (30 Days). The first film, Atari: Game Over, from director Zak Penn (screenwriter of The Avengers), will unearth the Alamogordo, N.M., landfill where Atari buried millions of unsold E.T. videogame cartridges from the Atari 2600. Penn, who filmed the successful excavation this weekend, will also dig into the impact the Atari console crash had on the world of entertainment. Tellem said the series, which will also include films exploring the impact of MP3s and Silk Road, will debut later this year.

    Just as music has gone completely digital, millennials and younger generations are now growing up without dedicated allegiance to traditional networks. Tellem and Levin believe the Xbox platform, which has over 85 million consoles installed around the globe, has an advantage in reaching this elusive, time-shifting, and advertising-coveted audience.

    "The challenge remains the same: to produce high quality content that resonates with our audience," said Tellem. "Our audience is smart and sophisticated, and the bar is quite high. They seek to be entertained through an array of video content and games, and that makes our tasks particularly challenging. However, we are in a unique position with 48 million subscribers on our platform (Xbox Live gold and silver members) who already understand how to interact with content. Both producing premium content and offering interactivity are our differentiators."

    One of the early differentiators for Xbox Originals will be interactivity, given that gamers are used to multitasking and interacting with the images on screen. Levin said that with each new show idea, the interactive team is brought on board to brainstorm on interactive opportunities ranging from "choose your own camera angle" to utilizing the Xbox Kinect camera.

    "At CBS, we'd think about cool interactive ideas, but it was always after the fact, not an integrated experience," said Tellem. "With our Xbox technology, we can create an integrated seamless experience that is meaningful and not forced. When you look at our platform, there are so many choices with apps like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, as well as eSports, and videogame video apps like Twitch and YouTube, and gaming."

    As companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu spend billions on new original programming, Microsoft is in a position to reap those rewards through apps on the Xbox. Tellem said her division has been afforded the necessary budget to create original programming aimed at the Xbox audience.

    "At Xbox we have an amazing audience, and now we want to keep them there and engaged," said Tellem. "Every Xbox One system has a Kinect camera attached to it. There are of privacy issues and parental control things that can be built in, but if you own the console there's an opt-in opportunity to take advantage of. The technology is there and available for consumers that want to take advantage of it."

    Levin said that while there are more transmedia experiences out there in entertainment today, including acclaimed second-screen interactions like HBO's Game of Thrones and AMC's The Walking Dead, most of these require users to go to another screen.

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