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Epic: Microsoft is "winning" online battle

Mon 03 Nov 2008 8:00am GMT / 3:00am EST / 12:00am PST
OnlineDevelopment

Capps praises Xbox Live - although firm not heavily involved with new Experience

President of Epic Games, Dr Michael Capps, has told GamesIndustry.biz that he believes that Microsoft is winning the battle of the online space thanks to the company's policy of continuing "adding cool stuff," and he's particularly looking forward to the new Xbox Live Experience due on November 19.

But despite that, the Gears of War developer and licensor of the Unreal engine, admitted that the company wasn't able to add in a great deal to the platform because their schedule didn't allow for it.

"It's tough, because we really wanted to - and obviously, being first party we work very closely with their tech teams, but they were finishing it after we were locking down a lot of our core feature sets, so we could only do so much," he explained.

"But I love the fact that you boot through the dashboard now - I understand how some gamers might not like it so much, but that's how you join into the Xbox Live experience - your dashboard comes up, you get to see what's new, hey, there's some free stuff you didn't know about - instead of just booting into your game and missing the community.

"If you hop right into the game you sort of miss something. And the way they're expanding the Live presence - you know, they're leading right now, they're winning. And the way you continue to do that is to keep adding cool stuff that everybody wants. Netflix is a great example - making me watch my movies on my Xbox!"

However, there was one area that Capps admitted he would like to see developed further on Microsoft's online platform - the Xbox Live Arcade business model.

"We recently acquired a company that makes Xbox Live Arcade games - Chair Entertainment - and they made Undertow, which a lot of publications called best game of the year on XBLA," he said.

"But it really wasn't very successful financially because, there's no marketing path, there's no PR path for a really sharp 20 dollar Live Arcade game - it's something you could sell on the shelves if you wanted to, but they chose to go down that route and I think it hurt them.

"So I think making that economy work [for new development], rather than saying, 'We all love Galaga so here's a new one' or 'Here's another retro hit that we've dumped on to Xbox Live Arcade' - making it more like Steam, where it's really easy to go in see what cool games are out and give them a try."

The full interview with Michael Capps is available on GamesIndustry.biz now.

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