Microsoft had quite an interesting 2016 with lots of interesting announcements, releases and updates for Xbox One/Windows 10 gamers. Xbox Wire, a report written by Xbox marketing VP Mike Nichols, notes several major milestones for the brand throughout the year.
First up, Xbox celebrated its 15th anniversary in November, which also saw Xbox Live engagement hit an all-time high of 3.9 billion hours, a growth of 23% over 2015. A nice statistic, indicative of a healthy online user base.
The release of Forza Horizon 3 was also very noteworthy, becoming the “best-selling, highest-rated racing game in 2016 and the biggest Forza launch to date.” Not bad at all. The report also details that the franchise has seen “well over 14 million players” on Xbox One and Windows 10.
Gears of War 4 is given special mention in the report, with multiple highly-positive review scores quoted. The community activity is brought to light, as Nichols goes on to say “We are seeing incredible engagement on Xbox Live with nearly 23 million Versus Multiplayer and Horde matches played since launch“, a noteworthy number. Gears has also made a triumphant return to eSports, with over $1,000,000 in the prize money pool. It has also been a great success for Xbox Play Anywhere, the new program Microsoft has launched to bring games simultaneously to the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms. Xbox Play Anywhere is noted to now include Astroneer, Everspace, Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition and ReCore.
Nichols continues by mentioning that the Backwards Compatibility program has been used for over 265 million hours by the Xbox community. In addition, he points out that Xbox Live was rated as the “fastest, most reliable gaming network” in a study done by IHS Markit.
Windows 10 is stated to have received fantastic growth, with gamers spending 2.5 billion hours playing games on Windows 10 devices in November 2016, up 127 percent over November 2015. Gamers also spent a huge amount of time with the new Xbox Design Lab, with 2.4 million controller designs created.
Nichols finishes by explaining how Microsoft will be providing support and new content for their biggest games of 2016, specifically mentioning Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, Dead Rising 4 and Minecraft. He points out the upcoming exciting release of Halo Wars 2, which will launch on February 21 as part of Xbox Play Anywhere. He also states the whole team is looking forward to what 2017 has in store for Xbox; that they are planning on bringing “a number of exciting enhancements to Xbox Live“, as well as a “terrific portfolio of new games” and, of course, officially unveiling Project Scorpio.