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Microsoft Announces “Xbox Originals”

Netflix, over the past year or so, has already made their way to the head table of original television content, sitting with the likes of HBO and Showtime. Shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and the highly anticipated Marvel series that begin next year, have made them a household name for incredible original content in my mind. But just when I thought that no one could catch them (Amazon and Hulu both struggle mightily in the original content department), Microsoft today announced its plan for what it’s Xbox Originals.

Now this is not a full streaming service like Netflix of Amazon Instant Video. But it is a way to deliver completely original television programming to any one with an existing Xbox Live Gold subscription — free. There are currently 12 different shows, from reality to drama to documentary, that are either in production or are getting pilot episodes as part of the program. Microsoft will be handling these shows in the same way other streaming services have been to date, with Microsoft commissioning and distributing the content, and outside partners like Disney, NBCUniversal, and 21st Century Fox producing it.

Here is a rundown of the details we currently have in regards to the what is currently in production:

  • Signal to Noise: A six-film documentary series, with each part focusing on technology. The first of which will be about the demise of Atari Inc. and the legendary game E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. The series has some really exciting names attached to it as well. Simon Chinn, two-time Academy Award winning producer of Searching for Sugar Man and Man on a Wire and Jonathan Chinn, Emmy winning producer of 30 Days and American High. It will air exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 in 2014.
  • Every Street United: A reality show that will take place right outside of this year’s World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hosted by soccer legends Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids, the series will follow them as they attempt to find the worlds best ammeter soccer played, having them compete in 4v4 soccer games. It will premiere in June 2014 on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows Phone 8, and Windows 8 (Surface and PC).
  • Humans: A scripted drama based on a Swedish science fiction show, about robot servants that gain free will. The show will consist of eight one-hour episodes that will premiere simultaneously on Xbox and Channel 4 in the UK, sometime in 2015.
  • Halo: The original series based on the insanely popular Halo video game series was announced at last year’s E3. The show still has Steven Spielberg attached, and has now been confirmed to be a part of this Xbox Originals program, but we still have no date or any other specifics.
  • Bonnaroo 2014:  While not exactly an original program, this might be the item on this list that I am most excited about. Microsoft will be live-casting the entire music and arts festival from June 13-15. You’ll have a view of both stages for the entire weekend, with multiple camera angle choices, and some artists even holding backstage Skype conversations. There will be a special app you are able to download on your Xbox via Xbox Live.
  • Microsoft will also be shooting several pilots, that may or may not be get picked up for a full series run. These include:
    • Extraordinary Believers: From Seth Green and Matt Senreich, producers of Robot Chicken, will helm this unscripted comedy that combines live action and stop motion animation. 
    • Fearless: An action-reality series involving an Australian Navy bomb clearance diver and Paul de Gelder, a shark attack survivor. 
    • Gun Machine: a detective thriller based on Warren Ellis’s best-selling novel.
    • Winterworld: I live action series based on Chuck Dixon and artist Jorge Zaffino’s seminal graphic novel series.
    • Deadlands: a show based on the pen-and-paper role-playing game by Shane Lacy Hensley. It is described as “a genre-bending alternative history of the Weird West, filled with undead gunfighters, card-slinging sorcerers, mad scientists, secret societies, and fearsome abominations.”
    • An untitled project created by JASH, the comedy group created by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim and Eric and Reggie Watts.

This is a ton of information and content to announce at once, and makes me believe that Microsoft is serious about getting into the original content game. Stay tuned for updates as they become available, right here on Free For All! Let us know what you want to watch most in the comments below, and if you don’t have an Xbox One to watch all this content on just yet, feel free to pick up one with the link below!

About Trey Elliott

Trey Elliott
Trey is a video game enthusiast, movie junkie, and cultivator of one fantastic beard. He loves to write original Gregorian chants, play the spoon harp, and speak of whatever comes to mind on the Free For All podcast.