Microsoft has finally released its 'Family Timer' for the Xbox 360, a long rumored update
which was only recently confirmed
by MS exec Robbie Bach last month. Once applied, the timer can be used to adjust and set the amount of available console playtime "on a daily or weekly basis...and the feature will automatically turn off the console when the predetermined time limit has been exceeded." Thankfully Microsoft has included reminders which it says will appear to notify players when their time is growing short, so hopefully they can make a mad dash for the nearest save point instead of being cut off without warning.
Interestingly, Microsoft notes that this feature came about as a result of two independent surveys conducted by the company throughout Europe and the United States, which included 800 parents in the US and some 4,000 parents in the U.K., France, Germany and Italy. According to the company, the surveys found that the majority of respondents (75% in Europe, 62% in the US) welcomed the idea of having such parental controls built into their game consoles, though it remains to be seen how many of said parents will actually take the time to implement and use the controls now that they are available.