Today, Microsoft published a post on its official news site, describing a “milestone year” in 2016, and promising an “exceptional year ahead” for gamers.
According to the company, Xbox Live saw engagement reach an engagement reach an all-time record of 3.9 billion hours during November and December, which is a 23% increase year on year.
We also get a list of the milestones reached by the Xbox business during the year.
- 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.
Following, we also get the promise of a “special year for Xbox Gamers” in 2017, with the launch of Project Scorpio, defined the “most powerful console ever,” and the advent of a number of “exciting enhancement to Xbox Live.”
Games won’t be lacking, and Microsoft is excited about Halo Wars 2 on February 21st, and more coming in the spring from third parties, 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. Add-on content for 2016 games was also teased, with DLC coming for Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, Dead Rising 4 and Minecraft.