Ed Fries: Kikizo Video Interview 2005

From Excel to X360! Must-see video interview with the Microsoft veteran and Xbox visionary on many topics including: Rare in hindsight, leaving Microsoft, next-gen in-depth, Halo, Perfect Dark Zero, programming days, sort of inventing the screensaver, and current projects.

Not many industry players are as qualified as this man to talk about such a broad number of gaming issues. But as an eighteen-year Microsoft veteran who built and ran Microsoft Game Studios, Ed Fries is in a great position to reflect and look to the future - and offer some very interesting news on current hot topics.

Like much of the industry and many hardcore gamers, we were a little saddened to learn that Ed, a real champion for real gamers, would be leaving the Xbox team last year, so at the recent E3 show in LA we made certain to hook up with him for a good, thorough catch-up.

The result is this must-see, half-hour video interview that offers a very packed list of contents, summarised as follows:


  • Teaching himself to program as a high school student, making a Frogger clone called Froggy, first deal at horrible 5% royalty
  • Being one of the first programmers on Excel, programming business software versus games, Easter eggs in Excel
  • "I'm not saying I invented the screensaver, but..."
  • I like your fish.
  • "You do something and people send you money!"
  • Why did Ed move from MS Office to MS Games.
  • Programming/games - replacing one love with another


  • Building Microsoft's games business - "career suicide"?!
  • "Crazy people" moving onto the Xbox project
  • "Nothing came from my group on the Dreamcast project"
  • Two different Xbox 1 projects - one from the Dreamcast guys
  • The origins of the "Xbox" name and why it stuck
  • Pursuing passions and learning new things
  • Leaving the company - hard to talk about, hard to be fair...
  • ...but talks about it anyway...
  • Similarity in leaving MS Office to leaving MS Games
  • "A lot of people have opinions on how things should be done..."
  • Xbox "Trojan Horsing" into entertainment - always the plan...?


  • Xbox 1 was the most powerful machine - and 360...?
  • "I want Halo 3 to be the best damn game in the world"
  • Strategic needs of big project like Halo 3...
  • "PS3 is roughly comparable to 360"
  • The issue of underpowered demo hardware and prerendered demos
  • "PS3 demos are more or less possible on both machines"
  • Why Ed is impressed with companies like Ubisoft
  • Why certain game publishers are going to hurt themselves in the long term


  • Today - "the easiest thing to say is I am retired!"
  • Being on boards, start ups and working with VCs
  • Working with AGEIA on first "physics accelerator" chip
  • Selling FireAnt to Sony, consulting with SOE
  • "I don't work for SCE!"
  • Working with Airtight Games
  • Consulting for various companies and publishers
  • Similarities of Ed's work today and Capital Entertainment Group?
  • Ed's view of what happened with Capital Entertainment Group
  • How hard it is to raise money independently and bring into games
  • "In that sense our business is less mature than movies..."
  • How to get creativity back into the market?
  • CRAZY-ASS BETS! How venture capitals think about the world...


  • Talking of "crazy-ass bets"... RARE...
  • "I still believe in Rare."
  • "It has almost been twice as hard for Rare..."
  • "I saw the new Killzone video and it looked awesome! But I also played the old game, and it wasn't!"
  • "Perfect Dark Zero - the buzz I hear internally from people who have no reason to lie to me is..."


  • Carving out pockets of freedom while at Microsoft
  • "I am really enjoying not working for anybody!"
  • Typical Kikizo intro/outtakes etc.

Ed joined Microsoft as an intern in the Applications group in 1985, and nearly twenty years later, his responsibilities had grown to include managing a team of more than 1200 programmers, designers, artists and producers across several continents.

Once again we thank Ed for his time and hope that he keeps us informed about the cool things he's still up to in gaming today.

Adam Doree
Interview conducted by Adam Doree & Alex Wollenschlaeger

Click here for Kikizo's interview archive.

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Ed Fries Video Interview
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Ed Fries Video Interview
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31.47m 72MB Low, 25

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