Microsoft Teases "Exciting Enhancements" for Xbox Live and "Terrific" Games in 2017

The company also teases that 2017 will be "special" thanks to Project Scorpio and more.

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As the New Year kicks off, Microsoft today published a blog post that covers some notable Xbox statistics and achievements from the past year and teases what's to come in 2017.

Xbox marketing VP Mike Nichols started off by saying that Xbox Live "engagement" in November and December was the highest in the history of Xbox, with players collectively logging 3.9 billion hours on the service; that's up 23 percent compared to last year.

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Nichols did not share any sales numbers for Microsoft's big 2016 games, but said Forza Horizon 3 was the best-selling racing game in the entire industry for 2016. It also represented the "biggest Forza launch" ever. More than 14 million people have now played a Forza game for Xbox One or PC.

As for Gears of War 4, the game is seeing "incredible engagement" on Xbox Live. Players have logged almost 23 million Versus and Horde matches since release, Nichols said.

The Xbox One's backwards compatibility program continued to grow in 2016. Players collectively spent 265 million hours playing Xbox 360 games on Xbox One in 2016. Some of the year's most notable backwards compatibility releases included Red Dead Redemption, Burnout Paradise, the Mass Effect trilogy, and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. More games are coming this month.

Microsoft's Minecraft franchise also had a busy year, as the game received more than two-dozen updates, which added 150 new features to the sandbox game.

Microsoft added: "With new titles for Windows 10 and growth in Windows 10 devices, gamers played more than 2.5 billion hours just in November 2016, which is a 127 percent increase compared to November 2015."

Microsoft grew and evolved the Xbox One with numerous system updates in 2016, adding things like Looking for Group, background music, and Clubs, among other things. The Xbox Design Lab program was also a hit, with users creating 2.4 million custom controllers so far.

New hardware was released in August in the form of the Xbox One S. According to Microsoft, the system was "among the top-selling consumer products" this holiday.

Looking ahead to 2017, Nichols said the year is poised to be a "special" one, thanks in part to the launch of the Project Scorpio console, which Microsoft says is the "most powerful console ever." Microsoft will also launch a "terrific portfolio of new games," while a "number of exciting enhancements" are planned for Xbox Live.

What are you looking forward to from Xbox in 2017? Let us know in the comments below!

This story has been updated and corrected.

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