July 4th, 2012, 02:12 Posted By: wraggster
We sit down with the corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios to talk about all things Xbox
Microsoft's E3 showing this year didn't offer any huge surprises, but the content to satisfy the core was certainly there. More importantly, from a global business viewpoint, Microsoft its continuing its march into living rooms everywhere. The company makes no bones about it - with Xbox TV, Music, Kinect integrations and more and more video partnerships, the Xbox platform is quickly becoming a well-rounded entertainment center for gamers and non-gamers alike.
Following the press conference, GamesIndustry International met with Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, to discuss the evolving Xbox strategy, the competition, Halo 4, the role of Kinect and much more.
Q: What is your general reaction to your competitors this year? Nintendo was showing off the Wii U while Sony was showing Last of Us, Beyond, etc. What was your overall thinking on those two camps?
Phil Spencer: I think, to not not answer your question, it is worth noting that there is another competitor that is not here that has a developer's conference next week (after E3).
Phil Spencer: Right, so if we think about where our ambition is, our ambition is to create an entertainment platform for everyone on the planet. We think there are a couple keys; having unique content on our platform. We started off with Halo, but we obviously have a breadth of content on our platform from big core games to things like the Nike fitness program that we showed, to things like Dance Central and our sports offerings. It's a real breadth of content on the platform. Live and the connected service is pretty key to what we do.
The partnerships that we're able to drive I think are important. I'd like to point out Nike yet again; it's them talking about what we do as opposed to us talking about us. It's nice, really validating to have a worldwide brand like Nike come out and decide that this is the system that they want to go and innovate on and we can go and create something that is uniquely different.
"If you look at our top franchises in our first-party, they do incredibly well relative to other first-party franchises"
Q: Was there anything in the other conferences though that stood out for you? People have said that SmartGlass is a reaction to the Wii U tablet. Is there any truth to that?
Phil Spencer: No, our SmartGlass was driven by the fact that people use multiple devices at home to consume content. Whether they're watching TV with their laptop up or sitting with their phone while browsing the web, we could use the power of Live to connect all these devices in an intelligent way and turn your TV into a smart TV. Your specific question on the other press briefings, I went to EA, Ubisoft, Nintendo and Sony and ours. Things that I thought and I am more of a positive than a negative; things I liked were ZombiU, they were nice enough to let me play. I thought that game played very well, and I saw the use of another screen and how that would work.
I think their Pro Controller makes a lot of sense with the platform they've built. They are building a platform that is effectively a 360 when you think of graphical capability. Now they are really making an on-ramp for the back catalog of games that are on 360. It is easy for those games to move over the Wii U. They've moved the buttons around, and they've made a controller that feels familiar for 360 gamers, so I get why they are putting those pieces together. I would have loved to see Zelda or Metroid or some of my favorite Nintendo franchises, which I didn't see.
For Sony, Sony has a big first-party. I didn't get a sense of what all their first-party studios are working on, but I thought God of War looked good. It's a franchise I like, I love the character and I think they do a good job with that. We are here to create entertainment, and we look at E3 and really wanted to create a breadth of content there. I felt good about how we showed up to really think about young, old, male, and female. We have more gamers than we ever have, whether they are on their phone, tablet, PC or console. We really want to embrace that huge community of gamers out there.
Q: It's nice to hear you say you've enjoyed some of the stuff from your competitors. Sometimes executives won't admit that.
Phil Spencer: I don't know if Microsoft cares - I work for Microsoft after all - but I own a Vita, I own a Wii, I own a PS3, and I play a lot. At the core, I'm in this industry because of the content we create and the experiences. I think there are great experiences that come from all over. I don't try to claim that everything that is ever created is something that we touch, that would be somewhat ridiculous.
Q: You mention Sony first-party, and they are sort of renowned for their studio system. You oversee the studios for Microsoft. I guess the knock on 360 is that you don't have as many first-party IP. It is a few select franchises in Halo, Forza and Fable. Gears of War is Xbox-exclusive but is Epic's IP. People say "how come Microsoft is not creating more IP or doing something to bolster the studio system?"
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