Think you're smarter than the average game show contestant? Microsoft's 1 vs 100 game is your chance to prove it to everyone. It's also Microsoft's chance to prove that Xbox Live can captivate a mainstream audience with a game that is far different from a Halo death match.
Based on the short-lived NBC game show of the same name, 1 vs 100 will have a 13-week season. The two-hour-long shows will take place on Friday and Saturday nights, and is hosted by comedian and voice actor Chris Cashman. Each installment features a player, the One, who is trying to outsmart 100 players in the Mob by rapidly answering trivia questions with multiple choice answers. The longer the player survives, the more Microsoft Points he earns when he walks away: staring at 200 Points ($2.50) and ramping up to 10000 ($125) by defeating all 100 players in the Mob. But if the Mob defeats the One, then everyone the player hasn't knocked out of the Mob earns an Xbox Live Arcade game. There are others players are in the Crowd, where the top 3 scorers in each game will earn the Arcade game. And each answer earns the Crowd an entry into a sweepstakes, for undisclosed huge-mega-prizes, that will be held in the middle and at the end of the season. As 1 vs 100's director Jo Clowes said, "It brings the best elements of TV and combines them with the best elements of games."
Part of the appeal of the game is the way a player becomes the One. Every aspiring player begins answering questions as one of the thousands in the Crowd. If they answer the trivia quickly and accurately, then they may move into the Mob, and can even be picked to be the One if they are good enough. Each game has a dozen or so rounds, which means a player could possibly move from the Crowd, to the Mob, to the One in a single evening. To improve each player's chances, there are 30-minute Extended Play episodes where the entire game takes place in the Crowd and the live game isn't taking place--think of these as qualifying rounds. The score from Extended Play is applied to the next live game, and earn a player entry into the sweepstakes as well. The way a player is judged to be picked for the live game will be reset each week, so players can come and ago without feeling penalized for not playing every single week.
1 vs 100 can be played by four players together, either locally or as a party online, and Microsoft's goal is for families and friends to play together. It is a cliché that housewives and grandmothers watch game shows, but with cute avatars and real prizes, 1 vs 100 could appeal to a segment of that market with game-savvy spouses or children.
The game felt like a live game show during my preview, the live host Chris Cashman was humorous and there was even the occasional commercial (Sprint and Honda) which increased the sense of realism. The game is free for Xbox Live subscribers, but the real goal is to make further headway into living rooms with casual games that appeal to the entire family. Take that Nintendo.
The official launch for 1 vs 100 is Spring 2009.