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Microsoft celebrates 2016, promises Project Scorpio and Xbox Live enhancements in 2017

This past year has been a really exciting one for console gamers, and Xbox enthusiasts have many reasons to be optimistic about 2017. A month ago, Xbox UK marketing director Harvey Eagle explained that 2016 was a “tipping point” for the Xbox One, highlighting the fact that the new Xbox One S enjoyed real momentum in select markets over the past couple of months.

However, there is no denying that Sony’s Playstation 4 may still be leading the gaming narrative right now. Indeed, the company just announced that it has sold 53.4 million PS4 consoles worldwide since launch, with 6.2 million units sold during the past Holiday Season (via Gamespot). It’s been quite some time since Microsoft stopped disclosing Xbox One sales numbers, but Xbox Corporate Vice President of Marketing Mike Nichols just shared some new hard data proving that the Xbox One is definitely a healthy business for the company.

“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,” shared Nichols today on Xbox Wire. The exec also mentioned other interesting facts about backward compatibility usage, Xbox Play Anywhere titles and the Xbox Design Lab:

  • The open-world racing game Forza Horizon 3 seems to be one of the company’s most successful first-party titles so far. “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,” said Nichols.
  • Consumers also seem to love playing backward compatible games, as the exec revealed that Xbox One users spent more than 265 million hours playing Xbox 360 games last year.
  • Interestingly, Nichols shared that consumers created over 2.4 million personalized Xbox Wireless Controller designs via the Xbox Design Lab website last year, though it’s not clear if all those consumers ended up buying their custom-designed controllers.

As for 2017, the exec teased that the Xbox team has a lot of exciting stuff in the pipeline including Project Scorpio, new Xbox Play Anywhere titles and additional content for existing first-party titles such as Gears of War 4, Minecraft and more:

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.

As for the Xbox Live enhancements that Nichols mentioned, we previously reported that the Beam live streaming service will soon be integrated on the console. Moreover, the Arena feature which will let Xbox Live users create their own tournaments is still in preview for now. However, the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update could bring a lot more new features to the Xbox One in the spring, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

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Do you expect 2017 to be an exciting year for Xbox enthusiasts?