How to Have a Conversation with 80 Million Fans: Xbox PR

 “The Xbox gamer audience is vast, diverse, and incredibly passionate,” remarks Xbox’s Senior PR Director Lisa Gurry.

In fact, the global Xbox community is so large that it could be its own nation. With 80 million Xbox 360 consoles sold since 2005 and five million Xbox One consoles shipped in its first six months, there are more Xbox owners in the world than people in Germany.

Beyond their common passion for gaming and entertainment, Xbox fans come together around Xbox-related media and millions of online conversations across sites like Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter. Gurry says, “There’s a ton of dialogue out there in our vibrant community, but we wanted to build a direct, daily conversation with our customers – and the media – on our own channel with content that’s interesting, shareable, and creates an ongoing dialogue.”

“Now with Xbox Wire, our owned news channel, our fans and media can get news straight from Xbox every day,” says Letty Cherry, Xbox PR Director, “And we also connect to a good portion of the Xbox community and media at once with our big annual livestream event at E3 [The Electronic Entertainment Expo].”

When Xbox PR set about directly engaging their audience, no simple blogging platform or social media site would suffice for the task at hand. Gurry explains, “When we built Xbox Wire, it was important to invest in a robust platform with strong infrastructure that could handle beautiful Xbox-style design right out of the gate. Azure has been our hosting platform since day one.”

She says, “We needed that kind of infrastructure so we could support the rich media that the Xbox audience expects. It was essential that the site could sustain a huge amount of visual storytelling including the video, photography, and the graphics needed to bring the feel of Xbox games to life.”

It was also important that the site could scale, as Xbox PR didn’t know how much traffic to expect. Gurry smiles, “While we didn’t know how much traffic to expect, we did know that our fans have an immense appetite for stories about Xbox. Therefore, we knew we needed to be prepared for anything. Azure has proven to be perfect. We were able to quickly build out a robust site with a secure infrastructure we could trust.”

If Xbox Wire supports the day-to-day communication from Xbox, the 90-minute Xbox E3 livestream (officially known as the Media Briefing) is the company’s once-per-year pinnacle showcase. It is Xbox’s version of the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

E3 is not the just biggest stage for Xbox, it is the main event for the whole gaming industry. All media eyes are on what’s happening at E3. It’s the time when the majority of new games, system updates, and new consoles are announced. And it is the chance for companies to address both the media and fans on what is coming for the year ahead.

Xbox held its E3 2014 Media Briefing, titled “Xbox: Game On,” at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Cherry explains, “It’s our annual opportunity to premiere the new games we have in store for the holidays and beyond to our fans around the world. The 90-minute event was shown live to the E3 audience and broadcast on Spike TV. It was also livestreamed on Xbox Live and Xbox.com. It’s like a TV show that’s also a ‘thank you’ to our fans.”

Some 4,500 people saw it live at E3 and millions more around the world saw it on TV and the livestream. “It was available in all Xbox countries and localized with only a slight delay in nine different languages,” adds Gurry.

“The broadcast lets our millions of fans anticipate what’s coming from that day through the holiday timeframe,” says Cherry. Xbox Live, including the livestream and the E3-related sites, are hosted on Azure. Cherry says, “The livestream is now capable of bringing top-resolution image to TVs without any kind of buffering, even with millions of users watching at the same time. We can even deliver other relevant content alongside the show. It gets better every year.”

Looking to the future, Xbox Wire plans to internationalize and localize content so it can reach every corner of the Xbox audience and media landscape. Gurry says, “Fortunately, it can all be managed on the same platform, so we can scale as quickly as our manpower.” And the E3 livestream will not only become more dazzling but more available in more ways. “It’ll really build momentum and excitement for what’s to come,” exclaims Cherry.

With the foundation in place for Xbox and their fans to grow together, they can keep sharing in the dialogue and exchange of ideas that is the lifeblood of a community.