Microsoft Weighs Ending Sesame Street TV Game Series

Originally published April 9, 2013

By Ian Sherr

Microsoft may pull the plug on Elmo.

People familiar with the matter say the software giant has discussed ending its run of Sesame Street interactive videogames. The titles let children count coconuts out loud with Grover within a tailor-made Sesame Street episode or watch themselves on screen as they play in a forest with Elmo.

Microsoft has been publicly promoting the Xbox‘s expansion beyond its roots in videogames, including by trying to create its own original entertainment programming and working interactive elements into movies and TV shows. The Sesame Street experience may suggest Microsoft‘s attempt to transform the Xbox‘s into an entertainment hub won‘t be entirely smooth.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft‘s chief executive, touted the Sesame Street series as a prominent example of ways the Xbox could turn TV programming into an immersive activity during his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2012.

The people familiar with the matter say the discussions about the Sesame Street game‘s fate came about because demand was not strong enough. One person noted that while children often enjoyed the game, they had trouble navigating the Xbox‘s starting screen, forcing someone else to start it up each time a child wants to play.

Sesame Street referred questions to Microsoft, which itself declined to comment.



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(Published April 9, 2013, on the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog.)