New Xbox 360 dash has Twist Control

"Games plus more than games" strategy.

Twist Control is what Microsoft calls the new Xbox 360 dashboard layout, due for release before Christmas.

During a demonstration at Gamescom this week, Robin Burrowes, Xbox Live product marketing manager for EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa], outlined Microsoft's vision for bringing together voice control and content in the upcoming refresh.

You can use the Xbox 360 controller to flick between channels that display at the top of the screen. The names of these channels are yet to be finalised, but you can check a few of them out in the video below.

You can also use your voice and hands to navigate and search, through motion-sensing add-on Kinect.

"Hopefully it's easy to browse," Burrowes said. "It's intuitive in terms of the way the surfing experience will actually work."

There are currently 20,000 items of content on the Xbox Marketplace, with more on the way. It's all getting a bit cluttered, prompting the redesign.

Microsoft also noted Kinect and the inclusion of Disney movies into Zune brought a new type gamer to the Xbox 360, "certainly more broader in terms of demographic than where we were before as an audience," Burrowes said.

Then there are the 35 million Xbox Live members, globally, across 35 countries. Zune usage has grown 100 per cent year-on-year. In short, there are a lot more "eyeballs" on Xbox Live.

The new dash launches alongside other new features prompted by core user feedback. Under the Social channel you'll find Beacons, which allow gamers to signpost what they're doing across XBL and Facebook.

"That's been a little bit of a barrier," Burrowes explained. "The core community have been saying to us, 'I'm doing this one activity but I really want to play Call of Duty with my mates when I've got four or five of them online at the same time.' People are still text messaging each other and sending messages on other platforms. This is an easier way to do it."

Facebook posting is also added, which means you'll be able to "like" a game, sending Achievements to the social network. And then there's cloud storage, announced at E3 in June.

Twist Control and its additional features form part of a strategy Microsoft calls internally "games plus more than games". Burrowes said the "sweet spots" were music, movies and live TV.

"Hopefully the new dash will show this service proposition goes beyond gaming," he said. "We'll never lose our focus on that gaming audience. In fact, developing the investment infrastructure to develop programs like cloud storage and Facebook posting and the beacons, are three examples of continuing to invest in that space.

"Our games Marketplace environment is really beginning to get optimised. We're now selling more with new transaction space than we are with subscription space for the first, which is showing to us our core audience is staying with us and spending more time, money and effort within games as well as entertainment."

Microsoft's vision of future living rooms

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