After just two full seasons of Xbox Live trivia game 1 vs. 100 Live, Microsoft silently put the kibosh on the social project with official word hitting the blog rounds this morning. A couple of days ago, even its four-time Emmy award winning host, Chris Cashman, was uncertain of its fate.
"Just sitting here with no live audience or questions to ask," Chris Cashman told me via e-mail when I approached him about the future of the project before Microsoft announced that it was canned. "Sad, right?" he asked. "I sometimes wake up and think we are still in the middle of the season and get excited to see the Mob looking back at me, only to then realize that it's just me in my lame infinity mirror."
That's Cashman; he's an oft-hilarious personality that added flavor to what would have been an otherwise dull affair. 1 vs. 100 Live was an interactive game show where one player, dubbed the One, tests his pop culture trivia might against a panel of 100 random participants called the Mob.
In a statement, Microsoft general manager Dave McCarthy confirmed that the project was cancelled at around 10 AM. "When we started on this journey, we knew we were creating an entirely new genre of entertainment that would be a continually evolving concept," he said. "We're very proud of the 1 vs 100 team and their accomplishments, and are excited to apply what we've learned to future programming."
== TEASER ==The dichotomy between The One and the Mob is what made 1 vs. 100 special. The Mob answers the same questions The One does, and both can earn prizes.
People who answered questions wrong got removed. For the Mob, removal meant better prizes. For the One, it meant he was one step closer to the ultimate prize: Xbox Live Marketplace Points. The audience, which was the sum total of the rest of the players, answered the questions, too. They just didn't have the chance to earn prizes; rather, bragging rights against friends.
Cashman's job was to inject the show with his colorful commentary, full of quick wit and jabs at some of the more obnoxious screen names. He also steered the program, telling the audience when a commercial break was coming, or announcing a new round of the game after The One won or was eliminated.
But now his show is canceled. Before he knew (and I'm not sure he does just yet), he was forced to give me the standard PR line. "Seriously, no official word has been announced about 1 vs. 100 season three," Cashman said, shifting his tone for just a few seconds.
At the end of the second season, Cashman must have felt like the project was about to be canned. Cashman told me that he prodded the game's audience and fans to write Microsoft about wanting more of the show. He jokingly added that he considered going on tour like Conan O'Brien while he waited for word from Microsoft.
We know now that the word will never come. In mid-April the developers and outreach folks behind the game went silent on Twitter and Facebook, much like the game's blog... until this afternoon.
One of the last official tweets, a reply to a fan, echoed the previously known official line on a possible third season of the online quiz show: "Sorry, nothing to share on future plans just yet," it reads. "Thanks, for checking."
Lead staff members, like director of development Manual Bronstein and director of game development Jo Clowes have moved to other companies in this interim period, piling on suspicion that it was canned.
Cashman was still hopeful in our conversation, although, I wasn't armed with all this information when we spoke the other night.
"The folks at Xbox are no doubt scheming on ways to advance the technology, so with any luck, we'll return and I'll finally host from the International Space Station."
"Perhaps they're addressing my request to incorporate smell in the game?"
Shifting again. "I wish I had something definitive to tell you, but the reality is that I am just another member of the crowd at this point."
1 vs. 100 Live debuted during Microsoft's keynote at CES 2009. An excited Robbie Bach stormed the stage and demoed it in front of a less-than-enthusiastic crowd, showing off its social features and at least one trivia question.
" In "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," who plays a character that ages in reverse?," one question read. The options are: (X) Johnny Depp, (A) Fred Thompson, and (B) Brad Pitt.
This is where Cashman would say something if he had a show.
A troubling aside in 1 vs. 100's disappearance is the fate of Xbox Live Primetime, the vehicle for the show. At CES, Microsoft said it had plans to offer other kind of content via the service, but with 1 vs. 100 possibly gone, does that mean Xbox Live Primetime and its promise is as well? Remember, McCarthy said the words "future programming." Microsoft also has mentioned that the rest of the 1 vs. 100 team and its tech is now using being used on future projects.
Cashman said 1 vs. 100 was the most fun he's ever had, and the fact that he's still getting recognized because of his work is telling. The man has had an impact.
"I was actually stopped in the San Diego airport by someone who recognized me from the game," he said. "It was a pretty awesome moment to realize that this new technology was really creating a live interactive experience that actually resonated with people."
It had an impact. It had style. And it was an excellent recreation of a game show that I had a great time with while it was on. Cashman was hopeful that it could come back, same as I was, but it wasn't meant to be.