Interview - Stephen McGill, UK Xbox Boss Talks The Future, Halo, Rare & More
Written Tuesday, September 14, 2010 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Microsoft has achieved a hell of a lot in just over eight years since first launching the Xbox brand and likewise, Xbox Live has grown and flourished as an online service, adding new entertainment applications and games on a regular basis.
It's by no means perfect, but Microsoft seems to know what they’re doing and know it has a good thing going in Xbox 360. With the tail-end of 2010 seeing some of the biggest titles yet to hit the console (granted a lot of them are sequels, but they're high profile sequels nonetheless) and Halo: Reach now out, we caught up with Microsoft's Xbox & Entertainment Director, Stephen McGill during the huge Halo: Reach launch party to talk all things Xbox.
We asked what the future hold for the Xbox brand, the usual burning questions regarding Kinect and how its major first-party developers are going to be delivering big things in the future, with particular focus on Rare and 343 Industries with the Halo franchise.
Did our hard-hitting interrogation techniques and prodding with a big stick get us the answers we were looking for? Read on to find out...
I'm not going to unveil any new releases tonight unfortunately, so we're very focused on Halo: Reach, then Fable at the end of October and then Kinect into November. But yes, April 2011, we're launching Gears of War 3 then, and that's going to be pretty amazing.
Obviously, we've got plenty of things up our sleeves. We've got things like Flight Simulator and Age of Empires coming out from a PC point of view and we've got lots of projects in the works from an Xbox 360 point of view. Watch this space. We've got things like the Tokyo Game Show coming up in the next few weeks and we've got plenty of events through the early part of 2011, so then we'll start talking about 2011, as soon as we've got this stuff out of the way.
Well this generation is here for a long, long time. I think there's still a lot of legs left with the Xbox 360, so we're years away from contemplating what comes next. As you know, with Xbox 360 we constantly innovate with the current console you have, through extra services on Xbox Live that we can pump down the service, then obviously with Kinect; that's a massive game-changer for the industry, transforming what entertainment in games can be for friends and family.
343 is working really hard with Bungie to get Halo: Reach out the door, then they'll probably take a few days break to celebrate what's set to be an incredible launch and game of the year for 2010. What happens next? Well, they're not going on holiday away too far, so with Halo: Waypoint already on Xbox 360 and coming to Windows 7 mobile phones, we'll be keeping you up to date with lots of Halo information and news etc. So, watch this space!
It's moved from being a purely online gaming service to supporting gaming and broader entertainment. It's moved to movies and it's moved to TV, so you'll continue to see us move down that path as well as continuing to enhance all the gaming dedicated focus, like for fans of Halo and core gamers. They need great gaming experiences and we're going to keep delivering that in spades and keep adding great entertainment for friends and family, so something for everyone!
The technology has been in developer's hands for a while now, so you're going to see some incredible stuff. Something for everyone, as you'll see when we start showing a bit more detail about Kinect Sports, Joy Ride and stuff, you're going to recognise that there's actually a ton of fun for core gamers and casual gamers alike, where you'll be able to scratch the surface or go as deep as you like. Then obviously from a technology point of view, being able to control your 360 experience through hand gestures or playing a movie just with your voice, that's some really cool stuff that core gamers are going to love.
The heritage of where Xbox has come from is clearly a gaming background. I think the key to whatever we do with where Xbox goes we have to keep that and be true to that and keep delivering amazing gaming experiences for gamers. But we are more than just that. In the last few years, we have broadened as a product, as a brand, as an experience to more members of the family and different age groups, so we'll continue to do both. It's not a case of, we have to make a choice.
If you're smart and you have great developers with great ideas – and we have those – you can service the core gamers with incredibly great core gaming experiences and still go for a broader, casual, more family-friendly focus. The two are not mutually exclusive in their own right. People have possibly done it wrong in the past on other platforms, and I'm looking forward to showing what can be achieved this Christmas.
I don't think it's particularly like a balancing act. Core gamers are very sure about what they want and I think we're servicing them with things like Halo, obviously FIFA's looking great, Call of Duty (Black Ops) is looking great, Force Unleashed II is looking great, Gears of War 3 is going to be great, Fable III is amazing, obviously Reach is incredible and so we have an incredible line up of games that people are familiar with and we have new IP for gamers, so there's plenty for them and I think they're going to enjoy Kinect as well. We're thinking about both audiences, all the time.
They're often quicker to produce than some full retail games, but some are incredibly deep, incredibly innovative and often smaller teams can work on them so they can come out a little bit faster for people. And some of the ideas we come across for the Arcade are amazing and then there's lots of heritage, lots of great IP that people want from the past that are able to come back on Xbox Live Arcade. I think it's a great development platform for publishers with new ideas and some great heritage content.
And so that's something that you'll continue to nurture and support then?