Microsoft’s game for TV

Conglom, 4Kids create joint vidgame-TV project

In its first foray into television, Microsoft has joined with production company 4Kids to create a vidgame-TV project that will air on Fox and play on Xbox 360.

“Viva Pinata” will encompass animated show and vidgame centering on animal pinatas. Skein will bow in September during Fox Saturday morning, a period when the net leases four hours of airtime to 4Kids; execs said 4Kids has committed to 26 episodes of the series.

Game, which will allow players to create and tweak characters, will follow on Xbox 360 over the holidays.

Vidgame companies have increasingly partnered with nets or TV production firms. THQ and Nick recently joined to create “Tak and the Power of Juju,” a TV series based on a vidgame. But this terrain is new for Microsoft, which has previously concentrated efforts on licensing.

While Redmond, Wash., firm did not solicit nets, move signals company’s interest in becoming a bigger player in venues such as TV. “This is part of our evolution from a videogame entertainment company to a broader entertainment company,” said Shane Kim, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios.

Tech firm could have a willing partner in the TV production world, where shingles have been seeking more diverse platforms.

Execs at 4Kids, the shingle behind successful franchises including “Pokemon” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” say they expect more collaborations of this kind. “We think properties that combine TV and interactive is where entertainment is going,” said 4Kids chief exec Al Kahn.