Microsoft said on Wednesday it is adding a feature to its Xbox 360 that limits the amount of time children can play video games.
The move comes as the software giant tries to make the Xbox 360 more attractive to mainstream consumers ahead of the holiday buying season that is the biggest time of year for the video game industry.
"As the customer base broadens, the demand for these kinds of capabilities does increase," said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division.
(Msnbc.com is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)
The new timer can be set to limit playing time on a daily or weekly basis, and turns off the console when the time limit is reached. A similar feature is found in Microsoft's Windows Vista computer operating system.
Microsoft research showed 90 percent of parents had some restrictions on video gaming, with half of those being limits on playing time, Bach said.
"The number-one tool they miss is the ability to enforce time restrictions electronically on the console," Bach said.
The Xbox 360, which competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii, already has a feature that allows parents to restrict the kind of games that are played based upon their content rating.
Microsoft also unveiled an initiative with groups such as the National Parent Teacher Association and Boys & Girls Club to educate families about video game content and encourage parents and children to work out rules around gaming.