with Chris Lewis
Vice President, Home and Entertainment Devices Division, Microsoft Europe -
Games Convention 2006, August 23rd
(Xbox Community Network), with which Xbox Gazette is affiliated, has been able
to ask some questions to Chris Lewis from Microsoft Europe, about football, XNA,
competition, and Live Anywhere at the Leipzig Games Convention 2006.
: Football was a big story at the conference today, with Pro Evo 6 and FIFA
07 announced as next-gen Xbox 360 exclusives in Europe for the next year. How
important is that announcement for Xbox 360 in the coming year?
: It was really exciting to talk about that today. Football is a religion
in Europe, especially right now in the wake of the World Cup, and it's great to
be able to say that for next-gen football gaming there's only one place for the
next year: Xbox 360. It's great to have games of the quality of Pro Evo 6 and
FIFA 07 on board with Xbox 360, and it's particularly great to be able to speak
about something tangible here at Leipzig. Yes, I'm excited about our momentum.
I'm excited about 1.3 millin units sold in the UK and 10 million units by the
end of the year. But it's especially good to be able to speak about important
games like Pro Evo and FIFA.
How heavily are you going to push that footballing message?
: I think it carries a great deal of momentum just because of what it represents.
I'm also confident that the gaming community will vote with their controllers.
In Southern Europe gamers loves Pro Evo, while in Northern Europe we see more
FIFA fans, so it's great to satisfy both those groups at once. I'm hoping we get
some good PR from the announcement, but if the gamers who love these football
games are happy then I'm happy!
: How do you think this announcement will affect the mindset of people who
might have been waiting for a PS3 to play Pro Evo 6 and FIFA?
: I'm hoping it'll encourage them not to wait, but rather to get out there
and get into the next generation of football gaming now. These games are really
taking their respective series to the next level in terms of visuals, gameplay,
AI and features, and I don't think gamers will want to wait to experience that.
So I'm confident that there's going to be a football feeding frenzy with Xbox
360. Bring it on!
XCN : Live Anywhere
signals a new closeness between Xbox 360 and PC. Will we be seeing more of this
close relationship in the future?
Chris Lewis : We're already beginning
to see that where it makes sense, but not every Xbox 360 game lends itself to
PC and vice versa. What you will also see is Microsoft offering a seamless and
integrated experience across both the Xbox and the PC, whether that's using a
joypad to control games, playing Xbox 360 players via your PC, or communicating
across the platforms. We want to create an open gaming environment because that's
what gamers are telling us they want. The PC is still an important part of our
gaming strategy and we want to ensure gamers know that.
: We also got to see more of Live Anywhere. When can we expect to see it working
on our mobile phones and how do you think it will revolutionise the way we look
at games and Xbox Live?
Chris Lewis : It's funny, because we really
have to keep reminding ourselves how cool Live Anywhere is. We see it so much
that it's brilliant when we present it and we hear oohs and aahs! But it's already
upon is. The technology is already there and we demoed how you could transmit
your Gamercard using your phone. We're going to be hearing more and more about
it as time goes on, but we shouldn't forget the revolution in online gaming that
Xbox Live has already caused. Over 50% of Xbox 360s are already hooked up to Xbox
Live and that statistic really stands testament to how easy Live is to use, how
much great content is available on there, and how much gamers are loving using
the service. The way Live Anywhere is going to extend that even further into the
gaming community just takes things to the next level.
: Is XNA Studio Express aimed at gamers in general or are you reserving it
more for students and academics?
Chris Lewis : We've been very public
about the XNA announcements. In the US we even had Chris Satchell, the man in
charge of XNA Studio, on the television talking about it! The hunger for knowledge
about it has even surprised us a little, but we've been sure to speak about its
importance both to academic institutions and to ordinary gamers. It's been deliberately
designed to be simple and easy-to-use, so we're not trying to alienate anyone.
When it comes to colleges and universities however, it's great to be able to offer
a complete solution for their educational needs.
: Four new countries are getting Xbox 360 on November 3 - Hungary, Poland,
Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Why those countries and how will it change the
Xbox 360 picture in Europe?
Chris Lewis : These are all extremely important
markets for us to move into because we've always said we wanted to expand our
footprint in Europe and around the world. These countries are great for us because
we already have a presence and an infrastructure there. We don't believe in doing
these things half-hearted. We make sure that we can deliver the best possible
experience for new Xbox 360 gamers. We've got the right games in place, the right
partnerships in place, and I'm confident all these launches will be very successful.
: Xbox 360 has a very strong games line-up going into Christmas. You must
feel confident about how you measure up against the competition?
Lewis : We do have a very powerful portfolio of games. 160 Xbox 360 games
available at Christmas? We feel great about that. We've got great momentum and
we can't wait to reach 10 million consoles by the end of the year - around the
same time as our competition is just getting into shops. Historically that 10
million number is a very significant milestone in the console wars. But that doesn't
mean we're complacent. You'll continue to see Live evolving and getting stronger.
You'll continue to see more and more big game titles coming to Xbox 360. We're
keeping our foot flat down on the accelerator because a console isn't just about
one year or even two years - it's about the long term. It's important to get going
with early sizzle and I think we've done that, but it's not over yet and there's
a lot more to come from Xbox 360.
: If you had to change one thing from the launch of the Xbox 360 what would
Chris Lewis : We were a little bit surprised by the sheer volume
of demand for the console. As I mentioned earlier launching worldwide is not an
easy challenge and I went on record as saying stock would be tight, but we'd replenish
as quickly as we could. I'd have liked to have limitless supply at those key periods,
and I'd have loved to have been able to supply all that demand, but that wasn't
possible. I'll probably get into trouble for saying that! Anyway, even if we could
have done that I'm not sure it would have put us in a very different situation.
Things would have been less turbulent, but I still think we achieved an incredible
launch. I was delighted with the game offering, the price, the choice, the customisation,
but the supply was the one thing I'd change. It's fixed now though!
: So you're confident there will be plenty of consoles on shelves this Christmas?
Chris Lewis : Absolutely. We've tripled our production, we've had no supply
problems since March, and I'm completely confident that gamers will be able to
get their eager hands on an Xbox 360 whenever and wherever they want!
: Many thanks for your time Chris!
Pro Evolution Soccer 6
07 official site
- Other Xbox
Gazette, September 6th 2006
Thanks to : Chris
Lewis, Graeme Boyd, XCN