Skip to main content

Allard defends 360 decisions in online chat

Xbox chief forced onto the defensive in front of an online audience

J Allard, Microsoftâs chief XNA architect, was forced onto the defensive last night as he faced the public in an hour-long live online chat regarding Microsoft's next generation gaming system, Xbox 360.

Answering questions about the dual pricing decision announced at Games Convention in Leipzig last week - whereby Xbox 360 will be made available at retail as a pack complete with 20GB hard drive, a wireless controller, and more for GBP 279.99, as well as a Core System pack, which includes only the console and a wired controller for GBP 209.99 - and the high pricing of the hard drive add-on, Allard was given a tough time by his audience.

Asked, "Why even offer the Core package?", Allard responded, "While we designed a no compromises game system, a huge percentage of our customers are not like the folks in this chat room."

Comparing the Xbox 360 to other successful entry-level consumer products such as the iPod Shuffle, Porsche Boxster, the 4:3 TV and the 1 mega-pixel digital camera, Allard said, "We designed the Core System as a way to get folks to come into the family at a cheaper price and decide if and how they scale the system.

"The great thing about our approach, unlike these examples, is that the Core owner can upgrade the system and match the capabilities of the premium system when the time is right for them."

He did concede, however, that Core users would have to buy a GBP 22.99 memory card in order to save their games, a point he said was "consistent with the games industry for the last decade."

Taken to task over the price (GBP 69.99) of the 20GB hard drive add-on, Allard responded, "The 20GB hard drive is a 2.5 inch user serviceable drive and is more expensive than a PC âcrack the boxâ drive. It's one of the reasons we pushed to create a compelling premium bundle."

In response to the "steep" asking price for the premium Xbox 360 bundle (GBP 279.99), Allard pulled no punches, arguing it was "great value" and that the capabilities offered in its forthcoming machine "are unmatched in the history of video gaming."

Comparing it to Sony's PlayStation 2 launch strategy, he said, "The PS2 launched at $368 (in Japan) with no hard drive, no online service, no [memory card], no wireless, no voice, no network adapter, no remote, and only support for two controllers.

"When you consider you are getting the most powerful games system, best CD player, digital media player, movie player, etcetera, it's great value," he added.

Meanwhile, on the thorny issue of HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, Allard said, "It's going to be interesting to see how and if a high def format for movies plays out," but later admitted, "We prefer HD-DVD to Blu-Ray in terms of the flexibility it offers to different applications as well as the infrastructure costs to the market."

Elsewhere in the discussion, Allard addressed Microsoft's stance on why Wi-Fi wasn't included as standard, the role of the hard disk, backward compatibility and more. The full transcript is available here.

Read this next

Kristan Reed avatar
Kristan Reed: Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.