Happy New Year!As we start off the new year, we thought we would take some time to look back at a great 2016 and look forward to what will be an exceptional 2017 for Xbox gamers.
We were privileged to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of Xbox in November, but what made 2016 most special was laying out our vision for gaming at E3 2016, delivering a new version of Xbox One along with great new games and services for you to play on the device(s) of your choice and seeing terrific response from gamers worldwide this holiday. In fact, in November and December we saw Xbox Live engagement reach an all-time high of 3.9 billion hours, up 23 percent compared to the prior year. Thank you!
Looking back, we reached a number of exciting milestones in 2016, including:
- Xbox One owners enjoyed nearly 400 new games to play in 2016, including critically-acclaimed console exclusives like Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3.
- Forza Horizon 3 became the best-selling, highest-rated racing game in 2016 and the biggest Forza launch to date. The Forza franchise continues to grow and has now seen well over 14 million players on Xbox One and Windows 10.
- Gears of War 4 launched to critical acclaim (Game Informer: 9.25/10, IGN: 9.2/10, Polygon: 9/10) and has had a tremendous reception for its campaign, Horde 3.0 and Versus Multiplayer experiences – all of which are delivered in High Dynamic Range (Xbox One S), 4K (Windows 10) and support cross-play as an Xbox Play Anywhere title. We are seeing incredible engagement on Xbox Live with nearly 23 million Versus Multiplayer and Horde matches played since launch, as well as within the eSports world, where the Gears eSports Pro Circuit has marked the franchise’s dramatic return with a more-than-$1,000,000 prize pool.
- The Xbox Play Anywhere program launched, which enables gamers to play a growing list of titles like Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition, Everspace and Astroneer on Xbox One and on Windows 10 PC at no additional cost. You can pick up where you left off on either device, bringing all your saves, game add-ons and achievements with you.
- Xbox One owners enjoyed more than 265 million hours playing Xbox 360 games in 2016, including highly-requested titles like Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: World at War, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Skate 3, via Xbox One Backward Compatibility.
- It was a big year for the Minecraft community with the launch of Minecraft: Education Edition as well as the release of Minecraft to new platforms such as Gear VR, Oculus Rift and Apple TV. In addition, 150 new features were added to Minecraft from more than two dozen updates.
- With new titles for Windows 10 and growth in Windows 10 devices, gamers played more than 2.5 billion hours just in November 2016, which is a 127 percent increase compared to November 2015.
- Xbox Live was rated the fastest, most reliable gaming network in an independent study by IHS Markit in the U.S. and U.K.
- New system updates on Xbox One and the Xbox app brought Clubs and Looking for Group (LFG) on Xbox Live, as well as Cortana and Background Music. Since the release of Xbox One in 2013, over 200 new features have been added.
- Fans created over 2.4 million personalized Xbox Wireless Controller designs via Xbox Design Lab in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
- Last but not least, we launched Xbox One S, delivering the only console with built-in UHD 4K Blu-ray, 4K video streaming and HDR for gaming and video. New titles with HDR support included Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, NBA 2K17, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Final Fantasy XV, The Elder Scrolls Online and World of Tanks. Xbox One S was among the top-selling consumer products this holiday in many markets, and its launch helped set the engagement records we experienced.
Looking forward, we expect 2017 to be a special year for Xbox gamers.
We will not only launch the most powerful console ever in Project Scorpio
, but we also plan to bring a number of exciting enhancements to Xbox Live. And we’ll deliver a terrific portfolio of new games with Xbox Live support on Xbox One, Windows 10 or both this spring. We are especially excited about Halo Wars 2, which launches on Feb. 21. There are many other titles coming by this spring, like Resident Evil 7 biohazard, For Honor, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, TEKKEN 7, Thimbleweed Park, Mass Effect Andromeda, South Park: The Fractured but Whole and Tacoma.
We’ll also be releasing new add-on content or expansions for many of our best 2016 titles, including titles from Microsoft such as Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, Dead Rising 4 and Minecraft. You can expect our third-party partners to provide content to enhance your gaming experiences as well.
We’re excited to show you more of what we have in store for 2017, including the much-anticipated unveil of Project Scorpio, in the coming months.
On behalf of Team Xbox, thank you for making Xbox all it has become. Here’s to an exceptional 2017 in front of us!