Moore Talks Xbox Growth, Evades Handheld
Microsoft's VP of gaming discusses the "monstrous growth opportunity" of the Xbox business and says that "profits will come"; Live Anywhere, HD-DVD, a larger HDD, price drops, Square Enix, and competitive advantage.
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And while Microsoft focuses on expanding the market, some heavy users of Xbox 360 are more concerned about expanding the size of their hard disc. Will there be a larger hard drive coming? "Yeah..." he pondered casually, "we continue looking at the hard drive, we're looking at the behaviour of what people are doing with their hard drives. Clearly when you have a million downloads you start looking at what you need to do. People are pretty good at managing their hard drives, I manage mine. But there's going to be a time when we need to look at what we're doing there - but no announcements now."
One thing that Xbox 360 users with hard drives benefit from is backwards compatibility with Xbox 1 titles, but some gamers have been underwhelmed by the volume and quality of games that are compatible on the new system. It doesn't look like much is going to change either, based on Moore's latest comments in the interview. "Nobody is concerned anymore about backwards compatibility. We under promised and over delivered on that. It's a very complicated thing... very complex work. I'm just stunned that we have hundreds of games that are backwards compatible."
He added: "more are coming, but at some point, you just go, there's enough, let's move on, or people aren't as worried about a game being backwards compatible - and I like to think we've upheld our end of the bargain in making at least two or maybe three hundred games backwards compat."
The topic of relentless growth in the business didn't stop there. Part of the Live Anywhere strategy allows Xbox 360 users to play games against users playing on a PC - how much of an impact is that going to have? "I think it will grow as the consumer want it to grow. There's things people want to do with a keyboard and mouse, and things with a controller. If the consumer says this is exciting, we'll continue to invest and invest. But we're not going to try and force it on people. If it doesn't work... we're not going to continue to churn out games en masse, or make everything cross-platform. We'll be selective, see what the gamer says."
Thirdparties have expressed an interest in cross platform as well, Moore explained. "Final Fantasy XI was absolutely that, in fact back in the Dreamcast days, we had Quake III that was cross-platform - but we never had Vista, we never had the power of Xbox Live, we never had the servers to be able to back it up... we think the bigger idea is social interaction, Marketplace downloads and micro transactions, for a much richer experience." Indeed, the richness of the community aspects of live can't be overstated; Moore highlighted the ruckus surrounding Bethesda's "horse armor" purchases available on Marketplace, saying "who'd have thought we'd be arguing about the price of digital horse armor?". He added that micro transactions are "really the future of what we're trying to do."
Likewise, "achievements has turned into a really big deal," he continued. "It's amazing what people will do. We have guys travelling on business who put their wives to work on Live when they go away, so they can maintain their scores and their creds. We all have that little ego in us. What we don't want to do is demean it; we want to make it mean something, it's not about just playing and playing - I always talk about 'pacifist achievement' in Geometry Wars... you can get it in sixty seconds, if you can get it. Apparently you just have to be lucky - and I haven't been lucky..."
It's no secret that perhaps the place Xbox needs to grow the most is Japan. Will there ever be a time when Japan's foremost publisher, Square Enix, decides to release a major Final Fantasy - say Final Fantasy XIV - on both PlayStation and Xbox? "Square Enix is a very smart company and they're starting to think much more globally than they have in the past. They love the idea of online. We continue to have a great relationship with them, and our vision for online... we're totally in sync with each other. So, no announcements yet from us or them, but when you have two companies that share the same vision and beliefs about where the industry's going, you can imagine, we're discussing this all the time."
In the full video interview, Peter also gives interesting insights into the work behind Xbox's E3 presence both on the showfloor and at the conference, revealing his personal role in the process, including tattoos. He also talks about working at Microsoft compared to previous roles at Reebok and Sega, revealing an undying passion for the shoe business that still sees him on the board of Timberland today. Plus: what he makes of the emails he gets from Bill Gates.