Microsoft has a slew of original programming set to hit the Xbox, kicking off in June. The original content includes 12 projects, with six “committed” and six in development, covering a range of genres including documentary, sci-fi, concert and comedy. Included in the lineup is a Halo digital feature produced by Ridley Scott and directed by a veteran who ran episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Heroes, which is separate from the Steven Spielberg-produced Halo live-action TV series.
The rest of the lineup is a fairly mixed bag, which is at least interesting if nothing else. The gaming and software giant doesn’t appear to be simply copying the Netflix approach to original programming, and is instead launching some efforts that likely reflect the different audience represented by an Xbox gaming community. Among their committed projects, for instance, are a documentary series about soccer leading up to this year’s World Cup, another documentary series that tackles specifically tech-related issues (whose debut episode focuses on the unearthing of Atari ET game cartridges which took place this weekend), and a drama about a future society where robot servants are the latest must-have gadget.
Other projects in the lineup include a live broadcast of the Bonnaroo music festival June 13-15, which features interactive functionality that lets users change stages and angles, as well as engage with other viewers through social channels. In the developing docket, there’s a wild west series that sounds kind of like TV adaptation of the Will Smith movie Wild Wild West, a stop-motion show spearheaded by Seth Green, un unscripted show about blood-pumping action jobs that make the world a better place, a detective thriller based on a Warren Ellis novel, a Sarah Silverman/Michael Cera/Tim and Eric-created comedy variety show, and a show about a post-apocalyptic ice world adapted from a graphic novel.
The final lineup might change, but the committed projects at least will begin to percolate out via Xbox, Xbox 360 and other Microsoft hardware (including Windows computers and phones) starting in June. More than a few of these sound like they’ll be really cool, and considering that PlayStation is also creating some potentially compelling original content including a Powers TV show, and Netflix continues to kill it with their own shows, we might just be entering a new golden age for original video programming that truly breaks away from the tired (and tiring) network model.