Xbox Live Has A Billion-Dollar Year

Xbox Live will try to rake in some new cash in 2010 with its Gold Family Plan and access to new programming from ESPN. They’re already coming off of a record year, though, if Microsoft’s numbers are to be believed. The company claims that 25 million paying users and movie and TV downloads over the last year put them over the billion dollar mark for annual earnings.

Info supplied to Bloomberg by Microsoft COO Dennis Durkin indicated that total revenue for XBL topped $1.2 billion in the most recent fiscal year, making the service a bigger cash cow than some analysts predicted.

“The old playbook of ’launch and leave’ is a relic of the past,” Durkin wrote. “Today with Xbox [L]ive, it’s now about ’launch, sustain, retain’ by continually adding new content that enhances the original experience.”

Given all of the upcoming interface features Microsoft announced at E3 in June, 2010-2011 should be a telling year to watch to see if Durkin’s theory holds water. Adoption of the gesture and voice commands coming with Kinect will be key, but they may take a sustained commitment on Microsoft’s part to catch on and stick. All will be revealed starting this holiday season.

Are you surprised by Microsoft’s XBL earnings claims? Do you think Kinect is the way of the future? Share your predictions in the comment section below.