Exclusive: Portable Xbox Gaming a Matter of "When"
Microsoft Corporate VP says: "the question will be, how do we enter into that market?" Get the scoop on Xbox's mobile aspirations and why Live is the "connective tissue".
In a surprising conclusion to a new Kikizo interview posted today with Microsoft Corporate VP Shane Kim, the Xbox bigwig revealed that a potential foray for the Xbox brand into the handheld/mobile/portable space is certainly on the cards.
"For us, it's a matter of focusing on 'when', because if we chased after a mobile or handheld opportunity, we would not have the resources and ability to do things like... Project Natal. So we've chosen to focus on the living room experience from a hardware standpoint, if you will, but we're building a service in Live that will... will extend to other platforms. No question about it."
Referencing the eyebrow-raising state of the current mobile games market and the performance of AppStore, PSP and DS, Kikizo asked: "obviously you'll be watching this space, but do you think there's room further down the line for it to fit with the Xbox brand?"
Kim's candid response: "Well, I do, and especially with respect to Live. We talked about Live Anywhere a few years ago. Live is the connective tissue. You're starting to see that now - we integrate Netflix, we integrate Facebook, we integrate Twitter - because we understand that customers don't want an island experience, they want to be connected to the rest of their lives."
He added: "So the question will be, how do we enter into that market - do we do our own device, do we create our own phone - that's a question for the company itself - do we continue to go down the Windows Mobile path which is that path that we're on today, etcetera, etcetera.
"But believe me, we understand the importance of that device in people's lives."
Support Xbox or Perish?
Elsewhere in the interview, Kim was radiant about swiping the last of Sony's previously-exclusive third-party 'trophies'.
"I think what I'm happy about is that we finally have most, if not all of the major third-party franchises that used to be exclusively on PS3. We've always said our goal with Xbox 360 is to level the third-party playing field, and I think we've finally achieved that."
Why did it take so long? Shane pointed out that the ties between Sony and companies like Square Enix and Konami go back a long way, but emphasised: "I think those relationships and those cultural attachments... can only last so long in the face of commercial reality.
"The fact of the matter is we have a significant lead over PS3, in Europe as well as North America. And these publishers are all in the business of making money as well, so you almost have to support Xbox 360, if you want to be a viable business today, especially given where development and marketing costs are going.
"And now, it's up to the first-parties to differentiate, it's up to Xbox Live to differentiate, and it's up to Project Natal to differentiate."
Of course, Xbox still doesn't have Blu-ray (outrageous plug for our new BlurayDaily.com movies site, nothing more!).
There's plenty of other stuff in the full interview.