Microsoft and Pizza Hut have partnered up to launch a pioneer app for Xbox Live that will allow users to order from the chain's menu directly through their Xbox 360.
The Pizza Hut for Xbox app makes the chain's entire menu accessible to users, who can then build their own customized pizzas and place orders via Kinect motion controls, voice commands or the controller. Users can link their Xbox and PizzaHut.com accounts and save their order settings to streamline future purchases, as well as view and take advantage of deals at local stores.
The app will let users order from the chain's full menu, including pizza, pasta, breadsticks and wings, and will feature Facebook integration. After submitting an order, users can share their choice with friends via Facebook.
Xbox's Larry Hryb told Polygon the app was born from "mutual conversation" between the Xbox team and Pizza Hut, and has been in the pipeline for long time. This app is the first of its kind, said Hryb, allowing players to purchase physical goods via a dedicated app for their consoles.
"We're always looking at ways to give our audience more of what they're interested in," he said. "If you look at our audience, they love pizza. I mean, who doesn't? It has international appeal, and Pizza Hut is a recognized brand that matches up well with the Xbox brand."
Hryb noted that Pizza Hut has been serving customers digitally "for a long time," having launched the ability to order food online back in 1994, and has published some of the first mobile apps with ordering capability.
"Pizza Hut has always showed affinity for new ways to order products," he said. "Now we can do it on console. The app was a logical progression."
Hryb said the ability to order physical goods and food through console apps may not work everywhere, but he feels it works well in this instance.
"It's important to us that we provide the right experience, and we'll go where the audience is interested in taking us."
"Instead of popping open a computer — maybe lots of people don't have a computer, or don't have one sitting in same room as their console — it allows users another way to place an order."
When asked if the app would be a one-time deal or whether the company was testing the waters for appropriate content for the next Xbox, Hryb said the company isn't talking about next-gen yet but will create apps that it sees users benefitting from.
"We evaluate options all the time and we want to do what is right for all Xbox Live users," he said. "It's important to us that we provide the right experience, and we'll go where the audience is interested in taking us. If they have an appetite for it, we'll investigate it."
Hryb said the app opens doors for "tremendous entertainment options" outside of gaming and streaming media. The app also integrates Kinect, which Hryb said was a "natural and easy" fit. Users can build their own pizza and order using hand motions or voice commands, which he said is quicker than compiling orders with a controller.
Not everyone agrees that the app brings such new potential to the console sector. Wedbush Securities research analyst Michael Pachter believes the new kind of app has no importance in the hardware landscape.
"[It's] not at all important," Pachter told Polygon. "I can do it with my cell phone, don't see how it makes things easier to do so through the Xbox. Sounds really lame, with extremely limited market potential."
"We've made a massive investment in Xbox Live as a service, and as a center of gravity for the console."
According to Hryb, the expectation isn't that apps like Pizza Hut for Xbox will start popping up on Xbox Live every day, but the team is listening closely for audience feedback on ways to improve the Xbox Live experience moving forward.
"We've made a massive investment in Xbox Live as a service, and as a center of gravity for the console, and we will continue to create more content and invest in the service," he said. "That service is a differentiating factor in the current [console] marketplace. We are confident in continuing development in that area and making the right investments.
"Xbox Live is a tremendous force in the living room," he added. "With all the streaming you can do and the games you can play... It's not necessarily about bringing in next-gen, it's about what's right for the living room space."
Pizza Hut for Xbox will be available for Xbox Live users on Tuesday, April 23. Xbox users who download and order through the Pizza Hut app before May 6 will get 15 percent off their first purchase.