Microsoft announces NHL GameCenter availability on Xbox Live

Microsoft's quest to become king of the living room by continuing the expansion of its console's entertainment services just grew a little more today. The Redmond-based company has announced that NHL GameCenter is now available to Xbox Live members with a Gold subscription, delivering great news to hockey fanatics ahead of the already controversial 2013 season. Regardless of lockouts and all that, though, the National Hockey League application's set to bring plenty of content to the Xbox Live folk, including real-time scores and stats, a Season Central hub that shows you the league's schedule and, naturally, the ability to watch replays and live games (as long as you shell out the $50 fee for the 2012-2013 season, of course). Per Microsoft, NHL GameCenter is available "around the globe," however countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland don't appear to have made the cut. The rest of you, meanwhile, can download the app starting today.

Update: Below is a note from Microsoft about which countries can expect to see the NHL GameCenter app on their consoles, as well as more info regarding the situation in the Nordic regions.

The following countries are receiving NHL GameCenter: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America.

The NHL app will not be available on Xbox within the Nordic markets due to an existing digital broadcast agreement already in place between NHL and Viasat Broadcasting. NHL games can be viewed instead via the Viaplay app, which launched on Xbox in December 2012.The Viaplay app is available immediately for download via Xbox LIVE.

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NHL GameCenter launches on Xbox LIVE

NHL GameCenter™ is now available on Xbox LIVE* around the globe, giving Gold subscribers access to their favorite NHL hockey action right from their Xbox and just in time for the 2013 season to take center ice. NHL GameCenter™ for Xbox 360 brings you live games, replays, classic games, and videos from NHL VideoCenter™, plus controller-free entertainment with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360.

NHL GameCenter™ on Xbox LIVE offers the following features:

Follow the Action from the 2013 NHL Season – Get real-time game scores, player stats and team standings. All Xbox LIVE Gold Members can also follow the action on and off the ice from the NHL VideoCenterTM. Watch the best goals, saves and hits from around the league this season.

· Live Games and Replays with NHL Game Center LIVE – With your NHL GameCenter LIVE™ subscription ($49.99 USD for the 2012-13 season), watch live, out-of-market games from the NHL regular season. Miss a game? Watch full-length archived games or condensed replays from this season and last.

· Every game with an HD-Quality Picture – NHL GameCenter™ delivers every game in a beautiful, HD-quality picture, and each broadcast gives every fan the option of the Home or Away audio feed. With NHL GameCenter™ on Xbox 360, you will feel like your team is the home team.

· Keep Up With Your Favorite Teams – NHL GameCenter™ on Xbox 360 lets you personalize the experience to get to the information you care about most. Select up to five teams to follow so you can be sure not to miss a beat on your favorite teams and players. Get the scores, player stats, schedule and live games, right at your fingertips.

· Season Central – A quick calendar view of the league schedule or just your favorite teams is a click away. Season Central is the best way to find out what games are on today, this week, or next month.

· Mini Guide – The Mini Guide gives you a quick preview of all of today's action right at the bottom of your screen, and makes it easier than ever to switch between games.

· Split Screen – Keep an eye on the rest of the league while cheering on your home team! With Split Screen, you can watch two games at once and do just that. Watch live games on both screens or a live game on one while you catch up with a game recap on the other. You can control both screens independently, pausing and rewinding each separately so you never miss a second of the action.

· Classic Games from NHL Vault™ –Relive your favorite moments in NHL history with on-demand access to over 800 classic games from NHL Vault™. Watch some of the best Original Six battles from the 1960s or re-watch the best games from the Stanley Cup® Playoffs through the years. You now have the best way to watch these games on your big screen with Xbox 360.

· Voice and Gesture Control with Kinect for Xbox 360 – Focus on the puck instead of looking for the remote. Navigate through Season Central, or play, pause, and rewind that behind-the-back goal, all with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360.

With the addition of NHL GameCenter™ to the existing lineup of sports partners, including ESPN, UFC, NBA and MLB, Xbox is taking live sports on TV to a whole new level with personalization features, deeper interactivity, and social connectivity found only on Xbox 360. For more information, visit www.xbox.com.