Xbox Live the “biggest social network around a television”

July 22, 2007, 5:19 PM UTC

Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox Live chief JJ Richards is talking stats, and they’re attention grabbers: the online gaming network now boasts 7 million users who have racked up 2 billion hours in more than 2 billion gaming sessions.

In an interview with gaming site CVG, Richards also disclosed that Xbox Live users send about 1 million messages per day. He calls it the “biggest social network around a television.”

Those numbers might not sound like much, until you consider that online gaming is a burgeoning environment for advertising. Microsoft’s Massive unit, which brokers ads for online games, is eager to capitalize on the Internet capabilities of not only the Xbox, but also Sony (SNE) and Nintendo. Google (GOOG) also bought gaming ad company Adscape Media for $23 million earlier this year. Parks Associates estimates that the in-game ad market will be worth more than $600 million in three years, up from $120 million last year.