The timer can be set to restrict console time on a per-day or per-week basis. Gamers will be given warnings as the predetermined time limit approaches, at which point the system will automatically be shut down. Microsoft had previously developed a similar timer for its most recent operating system, Windows Vista.
"As a leader in interactive entertainment, it's Microsoft's responsibility to provide parents with tools they can use to manage their children's videogaming and online experiences, and we have made that a priority from the very start," said Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division President Robbie Bach. "We've seen a tremendous response to the robust parental controls offered on Xbox 360 and Windows Vista, and the Xbox 360 Family Timer will continue to deliver on our promise to provide safer, balanced and fun entertainment for everyone."
"Professionally, I am proud of my division's work in this area, and personally, as a parent of three school-age children, I know how important it is to be engaged in an ongoing dialog with my family in order to uphold our household screen time rules," he added.
The timer, which will be available for download via Xbox Live in early December, is expected to be a boon to parents who can't be bothered to monitor their kids' gaming habits themselves.