Gamers are a slothful, portly bunch, prone to chronic acne and poor hygiene--or so the stereotype goes. In reality, the hundreds of millions of gamers across the globe come in all flavors, including fitness nuts. Microsoft's announcement of Xbox Fitness late Thursday should be music to their ears.
Xbox Fitness is an online service exclusively for the upcoming Xbox One console, and it aims to get gamers into shape. Stop me if you've heard of these big fitness names: Tony Horton (P90X) and ShaunT (Insanity), Jillian Michaels, and Tracy Anderson.
The service is free to Xbox Live Gold members through December 2014. More precisely, it requires an Xbox Fitness Pass, which is included free to Gold members. What happens after December, or what the Fitness Pass would cost non-Gold members, has yet been revealed.
The service provides interactive workouts with the famous names and brands listed above, among others. The new Kinect reads micro-fluctuations in your skin to track your pulse without even wearing a sensor, and it watches your movements to ensure proper form and evaluate your workout. Social Challenges pit you against your friends. Screenshots show something called "FP" ("Fitness Points" perhaps?) which seems like an analog to Gamerscore, but for sweating instead of shooting.
Beyond that, the details are slim. Are all the fitness programs included for free, or are some of them free and some available for purchase? Will you earn Achievements for reaching workout milestones? Will the workouts be expanded throughout the year? Microsoft has set up an Xbox Fitness site, but it doesn't provide much info.
With the Xbox One, Microsoft is attempting to position its living room box as something not just for core gamers, but for everyone who uses the TV. It's insistence on including Kinect with the new console (thus raising its price), has drawn the ire of core gamers. If the Xbox One can also be a sophisticated workout machine with some of the biggest names in fitness attached, it help make the case that the body- and voice-tracking device is worth the $100 premium over Sony's PlayStation 4. Xbox Fitness will be available this holiday season.