More than half of Xbox Live's 25 million users are paying subscribers, which means that over 12 million players make use of the service's online multiplayer and non-gaming offerings, like the streaming ESPN3 service. "Those are very, very engaged customers, which is a good business," Durkin said. On average, paying subscribers use Xbox Live for 3 hours a day. Before you calculate how many Black Ops matches fit into that period, keep in mind that users spend forty percent of their Xbox time using non-headshot services -- like listening to music on Last.fm, watching a movie on Netflix or rapidly exiting the Facebook app that they accidentally clicked on.
Keeping users "engaged" and interacting with the system is "really, really key for any business," Durkin said. He also pointed out that Xbox Live's digital transactions business (think: downloadable content, Games on Demand) is actually bigger than its subscriptions business. Again, Durkin emphasized that good content was crucial in keeping players connected, "and our marketplace allows for that." And to keep you engaged, Microsoft needs to keep its content-creating partners engaged too. "Obviously, the majority of the revenue that we get in this segment of our business, we share with our partners."
[We had a "circle of Live" joke here to cap off the ecosystem discussion, but we deleted it.]