A deeply pessimistic aura fell on the day of July 15 - a great loss for fans of both game shows and Xbox Live. Now I love both of these, and I was ecstatic to have heard that Microsoft was putting a version of 1 vs 100 on Xbox Live for free. An interactive competition of the masses with the focus on one (which I never was) battling for trivia supremacy. Throw in the occasional repeated question and disconnection and you have one of the most interestingly simple experiences of gaming.
It was really, really fun to lay back, relax, and answer questions with friends. Especially when they would make it into something more and bragging rights were put on the line (I would win most of the time). To be fair, I was playing against Americans and some of the questions tailored to the Canadian audience; but these tests of knowledge were a rarity at best, and at the rare time these did come up, I would get them instantaneously. I had some good memories with this game. I even have all the achievements and one of the few who do! (Something minuscule to be proud of).
And then, something else promising happened. Before we knew Project Natal existed, another free game was speculated and then confirmed by Microsoft - a racing game called Joyride. The game got a full-scale showing at E3 2009 and was said to be a free Arcade game later that year. After anxiously waiting for over a year with nothing coming out about the game, it was revealed to be part of the lineup for the newly announced Kinect. My heart broke in two - a clearly missed opportunity to expand on the success of 1 vs 100 Live.
Why 1 vs 100 Live failed is partly a mystery. Microsoft said it was because the company couldn't find any major sponsors for season three and I think this is complete bullshit. I suspect Microsoft wanted this to be bigger than it was - although it set a Guinness record for most people playing a game show concurrently - and this easily could have been achieved if Microsoft gave the game proper advertising. There was minimal mention of it on the main Xbox Live screen, and I never saw it under the Spotlight tab. In both seasons, I played every Tuesday and Friday I possibly could, and I know many others did as well. I know a few people who bought gold subscriptions JUST to play it. With such success in a limited period of time, and knowing how desperate Microsoft is to keep people paying for a year of Xbox Live, it's really a shame because the continuation of this game would have been hugely beneficial for both parties.
The team who worked on 1 vs 100 Live, Microsoft claims, is working on bigger and better stuff for Microsoft Game Studios. If they try and repeat the same model with a different game show, I'll give it a shot. The way 1 vs 100 played was perfect for a massive console game and few other game shows have the formula to function successfully. But, if MGS can work the magic once again, I'll give the game a chance. The free model could be huge for Microsoft and I wish that they would see it the same way.