We talk to leaders at Microsoft to discover how the company intends to turn its console division around in the new issue of Edge magazine, published on Thursday April 10. You can subscribe now in print, on iPad, Google Play and Zinio.
There’s insight from top Microsoft executives Phil Spencer and Phil Harrison plus former Microsoft employee Peter Molyneux and key partner Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, as we find out how the platform holder plans to put Xbox back in the number one spot after a troubled launch.
One thing that’d help, of course, is launching Xbox One in more than just 13 territories. “I’ll just say it: I wish we were in every country on day one,” Microsoft Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer tells us. “Accelerating our country rollout is really, really important to us. We built a box that natively understands the country it’s in – the language and television and other things – [so] let’s make sure we do a complete job in bringing the console into those markets. When we do, I think it will have an impact, but I want to do it in the right way. I don’t want to get there early if the box isn’t ready for the market it’s being launched in.”
The new man in charge at Xbox touches on a wide range of topics within our new issue’s cover feature, not least the continued presence of Kinect within its console offering. To justify its presence, there are more Kinect games coming – “There are a number of games on the ID@Xbox programme that use Kinect, and you’ll see more games in the fall,” he tells us – and Microsoft still doesn’t feel the need to remove it from the Xbox One package just yet, though it would reduce its price.
“We’re always trying to match what consumers are asking for,” he says. “I always want to make sure that we’re in tune with what current or potential customers are asking for from us. Right now, [dropping Kinect is] not the number one request from people. Usually it’s, ‘Where are the great games?’”
One prominent Xbox One owner and former Microsoft employee sees Kinect rather differently, however. “I actually wish Kinect wasn’t a requirement,” 22cans’ Peter Molyneux tells us. “It feels like an unnecessary add-on to me. Maybe it’s because we’re in England, and it doesn’t really use the TV stuff, but it feels more and more like a joke. My son and I sit there saying random things at it, and it doesn’t work. They could cost-reduce it [by removing Kinect]. I’m sure they’re going to release an Xbox One without Kinect. It would be unthinkable that they wouldn’t.”
Elsewhere, Spencer also promises new Xbox One exclusives, suggesting that E3 2014 will be “great… a real moment for us in this generation.”
“I run firstparty studios, so I’m all about exclusives,” he says. “When we talk to people, that exclusive content is the number one reason that gamers buy a given console.”
He is also keen to stress that Microsoft is doing the best is can to ensure that Xbox One’s performance continues to improve in order to match the power of its rival PS4. “The resolution and fidelity of things that people will be playing on Xbox One will be top notch,” he tells us. “You ship with a certain idea about what the profile of a game running on your box will look like, but you learn in terms of what people are really doing, and how you can make it most effective for developers.”
Spencer also shrugs off the continued rumours that suggest Microsoft could sell off its Xbox division. “Xbox is maybe the most relevant brand that Microsoft has with consumers today,” he tells us. “We’re going to maintain our consumer focus. We’re spending a ton of money, bringing in Nokia [with] 30,000 people joining the company to go build consumer phones. Consumer is part of what this company is. You think about the Xbox brand and all the equity around it, people lining up at midnight outside of Game to go get the console – how many Microsoft products have that? It’s an asset that’s extremely valuable, and since our future ambition is to grow our consumer relevance, Xbox has to be at the centre of that.”
There’s a great deal more insight and analysis of Xbox One’s plight in the new issue of Edge magazine, which is available on Thursday April 10 in print, on iPad, Google Play and Zinio. Head through the links for more information on how to buy individual copies or subscribe.