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Microsoft shares post-NXE stats: Marketplace sales up, more friends online

Just three weeks after the – by all accounts, very successful – launch of the New Xbox Experience, Microsoft is ready to trumpet some statistics related to the new interface. To help us navigate this panoply of numbers, Microsoft lent us the services of one Mr. Aaron Greenberg, group product manager for Xbox 360, who served as our tour guide through the press release.

First, with 14 million folks suddenly using an entirely new interface designed to make content easier to find, you'd wonder how successful it is in that regard. Well, glad you asked! Microsoft reports that Marketplace downloads of TV episodes were up 30% and movie downloads an impressive 49% the week after the NXE launch. This is in spite of competition from Netflix's ample on-demand offerings in both areas. Wondering how many folks are using Netflix? Yeah, so were we ... Greenberg told us they're not providing that data just yet, but we wouldn't be surprised to hear them noting that as a success during next month's CES.

Post-NXE "the number of new friends added per Xbox LIVE member has risen by 33%" across both Gold and Silver Xbox Live memberships. Pre-NXE numbers put the average number of friends for a Gold subscriber at around 23 – but without data for both classes of membership, it's impossible to determine the new average (Silver members are likely to have far fewer friends). What's responsible for the uptick? Greenberg points to the party system, where Xbox Live members can see the people playing with their friends. Who's that stupid guy in the white suit playing with xXsmokezmadbluntz420Xx? Click on the party and find out.

If you somehow managed to skip the Avatar creation process, Greenberg says it's a "loophole" so we wouldn't expect you'll get away with your silhouette much longer. But when you do finally make an avatar, consider some of the Xbox Live Arcade games now featuring avatar support. NinjaBee's Avater-infused A Kingdom for Keflings managed to record the second-largest XBLA launch ever while UNO, which was updated to include Avatar support, saw a 650% sales spike "in just one day." Of course, we don't think the 2-1/2 year-old game was selling much at this point, but 650% is 650% so, kudos.

With the stats out of the way, it was time to ask what everyone's been wondering: At what point is the New Xbox Experience no longer new? And what, pray tell, will we call it then. Here at Joystiq, we're considering "Current Xbox Experience" as a worthy successor to the NXE – Greenberg says, surely jokingly, that he hadn't thought of it before. Sure you haven't, Aaron. Once the NXE starts making its way into newly manufactured Xboxen this Spring, as well as retail game discs in January, we expect to see even further penetration and then we'll bring up the NXE-dilemma again.

Greenberg wasn't ready to talk about new functionality or when it's coming – think Netflix sharing, Xbox Live Primetime, or new gear for your Avatar – but it's clear Microsoft considers the New Xbox Experience an early success. If you believe the stats, you're looking at more engagement, more social interaction, and more Marketplace sales,

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