The release of Halo 3 has really kicked off Xbox 360’s end-of-year push – are you confident that Microsoft has the best video games offering available on the market at the moment?
You never really know what’s going to happen in Q4, but I’ve worked on Xbox since we started the project and this is probably the best Christmas line-up we’ve ever had from a content perspective. There’s a whole range of product coming – the brightest thing for us this year is the breadth of range and the extension of some of our more family-based products.
It is important for us to still offer loyal Xbox customers exactly what they want – so it is important that Halo 3 has just arrived and GTA is coming. Ubisoft is bringing its titles to 360 as well, so core titles are still very, very important to us. But I think we’ve done more than ever to widen that portfolio. And you can never forget Live, with over seven million users around the world.
Can you put a figure on the amount of money Microsoft will be spending on marketing your products over Christmas?
Tens of millions of dollars is as accurate as I would want to be. You have to spend a lot of money in order to support your business and of course it’s the most expensive time of year to spend money. It is pivotal, we have heavyweight activity and you will see Xbox 360 very clearly above the line. We’re working very hard with retailers to ensure we do a great job in-store and out of store. It will be a big 360 Christmas out there this year.
Do you think this Christmas will be the most competitive the industry has ever seen?
This year we have three platforms in the market and that’s great for the consumer – there’s a lot of choice. We have got over 300 games to offer this Christmas – but there is still a long way to go.
I think we offer the best value, and if you take figures from ChartTrack I think you’ll see we’re in a very healthy position on our installed base. When you talk about week-on-week sales trends up against PS3, we are pretty much double its volume. The next twelve weeks become pretty definitional in terms of where you end up this calendar year so that’s what we’ve really got to look to now.
Do you think that launching your console first has meant that the other platform holders have followed your lead?
I think in this generation we’ve absolutely been the innovative force in terms of what a next generation console should look like and how people should think about it. I don’t think we were innovative enough with the first console, so we did learn a lot from that. I think we made some very smart choices. And I think that’s testament to how gaming is becoming a more pervasive entertainment form in society.
What will you be doing to widen the appeal of 360 even further?
We are investing more and more in understanding what we can do for that broader consumer. And we will be announcing more and more titles and experiences for that market. We obviously look at market trends and what is happening.
The Live experience and the Arcade games on it give us a very good steer as to the sort of content the broader consumer wants to play. It’s definitely an area you’re going to see more and more. Platforms mature and prices change over time – when you see that mass audience coming in we have to create product for that market, as well as maintaining product for that core gamer that has been there since day one. You will see more types of content besides games too through services like the video marketplace.
What about the 360’s long-term future – are you looking to move beyond the basic gaming experience?
We definitely want to work with people beyond the gaming arena. There’s definitely a space between gaming and movies that there is a lot of energy around. It’s just finding the balance between bringing the joys of gaming and the emotion and connections from the audience you get with a film.
How do you think 360 is shaping up in terms of ‘winning’ this generation’s console race?
I don’t think it’s as binary now as it was with the previous generation. It really depends on your criteria of ‘winning’. Some people say it’s how many boxes you ship, some say it’s the amount of profit you make, some might judge it on how broad your offering is.
I certainly think we will be a very, very popular platform and we are trying to build an effective and profitable business that delivers to consumers what they want – and hopefully brings new ideas and innovation into the world of entertainment.
This isn’t an Xbox 360 strategy, this is a Microsoft entertainment strategy going way into the future. As a stepping stone towards that future, it’s certainly a successful one. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, I think when people look back on this in the future they will see this as a very successful stepping stone in Microsoft’s broader entertainment vision.