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GDC 06: Peter Moore Talks Halo, E3, and PS3

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  • GDC 06: Peter Moore Talks Halo, E3, and PS3

    Microsoft's vice president discusses Xbox 360 plans for GDC, E3 and this holiday.
    by Douglass C. Perry


    March 21, 2006 - On the eve of this year's Game Developers Conference, Corporate Vice President of Interactive Entertainment Peter Moore came to visit IGN to talk about the future.

    We spoke with him in a full video interview, which you'll see as part of the new IGN Weekly Video Show on Friday. But in the meantime we've gleaned the important stuff so you can learn about Microsoft's plans now. What did Mr. Moore have to say?

    IGN: What happened to Digital Anvil?
    Peter Moore: They're a great developer: There was nothing there that was integral to our plans moving forward. Actually, they're all doing fine. They were a great studio, and I think the core studio is still together. We offered them all jobs at Microsoft Game Studios and a few people accepted; some others didn't want to. I think they're trying to get some financing together to form a new studio. But I don't want to mess with any future plans that team has, so I'd rather not say anything more.

    On Microsoft Next-Gen Sequels:
    Peter: And then there's MechAssault. The IP, MechAssault, for whatever reason, just didn't gel after the first game. It was a great Xbox Live game. So we have no immediate plans for a sequel to that game.

    There are long-time plans to continue the Forza franchise, though no details yet (Ed note: IGN expects an announcement for the sequel by E3). Same with Fable, which I believe just crested at the 2 million mark, which we're delighted with. But as you point out, these are Microsoft intellectual properties that we invested in heavily to get them off the ground and that's not an easy thing to do in today's world. Yes, there will always be sequels. You talk about Halo, that's a great piece of IP. There is Forza, Project Gotham Racing, Fable... You build franchises, but as a platform developer, it's incumbent to us to try and build ultimate experiences and prime intellectual properties that work.

    Sometimes that works, such as with Project Gotham, Halo, Fable. Sometimes it doesn't, and unfortunately, MechAssault is one of those that just didn't get that traction. And you have to, at some point, figure out whether you want to continue to build sequels on IPs that did just OK. Or in the case of the platform holder, and MGS's goals, objectives, and its charter to drive platform-defining games, we are supposed to take risks and do things that third parties cannot afford to do. It's our job to do that; to define what this box is all about. And sometimes for things that didn't quite have the commercial success you have to make the unfortunate decision that you're not going to have a sequel or not going to do the third iteration. And that's unfortunate. I'm not saying we won't have a successor to MechAssault, but there are certainly no announcements right now.

    Crimson Skies is another great example. Our goal in the next generation is to do less/better. We did a lot of titles the first generation. It might have been 30 or 40 games, and that's a lot. Crimson Skies is again another title that, again, falls between two stools. It was certainly acclaimed by the hardcore, but it wasn't a slam dunk for us. So while there are no real plans yet, you never say never. But the titles I mentioned before (Gears of War, Crackdown, Mass Effect and Too Human) are the ones we're really focusing on now.

  • #2
    On the Subject of Hardware Shipments:
    Peter: One of the things that we announced at DICE in January is that Celestica is now online. That's helping when you get a third factory online to increase output, and really, as with the normal manufacturing flow, we're getting our yields to where we want them to be. We're really getting strong flow into the marketplace. In the next 10 days, maybe two weeks, you should be able to buy one off the shelf. I can't put a number on how many there will be, but it will be substantial. We have a solid flow of consoles on boats, instead of planes (not on 747s). Right now, there on tens of thousands of units on boats at a time, and they're all coming to the US. The amount we're bringing is two to three times the average of all the weeks since launch. It takes four weeks time for the Xbox 360 to go from factory to distribution center: It takes four weeks. That could mean five to six weeks, depending on the location of the kind of retailer. Doug, do this for me. Open your Sunday papers this weekend and see what you see.

    On GDC, Pricing Issues, and XNA:

    Peter: The major topics that we're talking about at GDC is talking about XNA. We will deliver bits for developers to work on. As you know, the escalating cost of development is an issue for all developers, and XNA is our solution. From the gamer's perspective, XNA is really invisible to the end user. We're trying to keep costs under control. If we deliver a better game that's less cost to the developer, publisher and consumer, the better for everyone.

    We haven't talked about pricing going forward here, but I think that the pricing of games, when we look at the cost, is still a very fluid situation. I think ourselves and our publishing partners are all trying to find out where we believe that we can position pricing in relation to the value of games. Let's face it, if gamers don't believe there is a $59.99 value in the game itself then they won't buy it. But I think that gamers recognize that these games are longer, deeper, certainly graphically more intense than before, and there is a cost to that. And the industry is going through a tough time right now. Hopefully, with the increased flow of units to the retail stream, that will help our publishing partners.

    On Halo 3:

    Peter: We haven't made any announcements regarding the Halo franchise. So Bungie is busy, they're an industrious bunch, and I think certainly this year, 2006, we might give you a peak at what Bungie is working on. I'm not going to give you any specific days, times or events. Halo is one of those games that will drive sales. Right along with Gears of War, Crackdown, Mass Effect and Too Human. CliffyB will be there at E3 to show off Gears of War and you'll be able to get your hands on a controller and play Gears of War. Gears of War is coming out sometime this year.

    On the Xbox Handheld:
    Peter: We've made no announcements at all. Don't be confused. Origami is a portable device that's more about portable computing that had entertainment layered in. It's not being done by our division. The primary focus is on making more PC oriented games, maybe smaller games via download. It's not, by any means, a portable Xbox.

    On E3 and Sony
    Peter: E3 is all about the holidays. We will have a strong a lineup as I've ever gone into E3 with. And that goes back a few years. This year will be a very interesting E3. It almost gets to be put-up or shut-up situation for some people. Our primary focus is on showing you great games. We'll have 80 games for Xbox 360 by June of this year. We'll be unveiling new games for the holiday as well as giving you, as I mentioned earlier, a better perspective on Gears of War.

    For Sony, E3 a year ago was all about high-powered video, CG, and my suspicion would be that they feel the pressure to have hands-on playables. I don't work for that company. You know, they've got problems. I've got problems. And our problems are all about fulfilling the overwhelming demand for the Xbox 360.

    They have got some challenges. Their challenges are a myriad of problems bringing a product to market this year on a global basis. We've got some challenges: meeting demand for a product that's already in market that millions of people are already enjoying and we'll have so many games, such a deep experience from an Xbox Live point of view, and we'll be in 30 countries by the end of this month. So by the end of next week we're up and running in 30 countries with millions of units flowing in and our primary and only focus will be to fulfill demand. Sony on the other hand has got huge problems as you always do in bringing a product to market, launching it, getting it delivered around the world, getting your yields up, delivering against a format in Blue-Ray that's not yet mass market, delivering against unknown silicon issues, the list goes on. They're a very talented company with a huge check list of things they need to do. I sleep easy knowing that my only problem is fulfilling demand.

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