This spring, in an effort to bring Xbox gaming beyond core gamers into the mainstream, Xbox will release 1 vs. 100, a live event game show that blends TV's live programming and high production value with the interactivity of gaming.
Based on Endemol's television game show concept, which had a short run on NBC, the trivia game pits one contestant against a mob of 100 for Microsoft Points prizing. On Xbox Live, the console's online gaming and content delivery service, 1 vs. 100 players nationwide compete against each other during a live event at scheduled times on Friday and Saturday nights for a 13-week season. With on-screen avatars that are more customizable than Nintendo Miis, players answer multiple choice pop-culture heavy trivia questions and the One tries to outlast all 100 members of the mob. The one-hour show features a live announcer, comedian and actor Chris Cashman, who hosts the show from a studio in Redmond, Wash. (The host changes by country and so do the trivia questions.)
1 vs. 100 is free to Xbox Live gold members, who pay a membership fee of about $50 per year for perks like multiplayer gaming and streaming Netflix content.
An algorithm selects the One and members for the mob based on the skill and frequency of game play from the pool tuned in to the live event?all remaining gamers who've tuned in for the event are put in the audience and can still answer questions. When the One answers questions correctly, he or she wins Microsoft Points, which buy arcade games, TV shows or movies in the Xbox Live Marketplace. If the One beats the entire mob, he or she can win up to 10,000 points. For correctly answered questions, members of the mob can win arcade games. During a one-hour show, about 10 to 15 rounds can be played, with a new One and refreshed mob per round.
During the rest of the week, gamers can still play in what's called extended play to increase their stats and, consequently, their chances to be in the hot seat or the mob during the live event. Extended play also includes themed trivia topics like player written questions, battle of the sexes, and super hard.
The game itself takes place in the Sprint Theater, named after the game's primary sponsor. The outside of the theater bears a 3D rendering of the Sprint logo on the building's marquee. Inside, Sprint signage lines the walls like posters in a sports arena. Also, from time to time, the lighting behind the mob bleachers will flash Sprint yellow. The Xbox design team created all the atmospheric Sprint branding.
"I worked closely with the design team and with Sprint to figure out how to integrate the brand into the show," says Jeanie DuMont, senior product planner for advertising on Xbox Live. "What we looked at was traditional television and live events and game shows where the venue is the part of the show. We thought about how we can extend that game show concept into a gaming environment. That's how the Sprint Theater concept evolved. The game itself can be taking place inside a theater, and we can brand that theater.
"As we've described the game as a new entertainment experience where we've brought the best of television to gaming, our advertisers are thinking of this as an extension of television, too. The great thing about Xbox Live in general is that you have a perfect marriage of digital possibility with TV possibilities. We're thinking beyond the traditional in-game advertising of simple banner placements on billboards."
Sprint and Honda are the game's launch partners for the entire season. During a break in game play, :30 spots play within the show set?this is the first time video ads have run in an Xbox game. For the Honda Insight launch, gamers who play at designated times will be entered into sweepstakes with Honda prizing. While Xbox Live advertising has started with the sponsorship model, it's exploring ways to leverage the host and integrate prizing into future ad opportunities.