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Five Years of Xbox 360

Neil Thompson and Stephen McGill discuss the past and the future of Microsoft's console

GamesIndustry.bizPerhaps something along the lines of PlayStation Home?
Stephen McGill

That's not something that we're looking at. I'm not sure what their learnings are from the Home experience, it's a nice chat room I guess, not an awful lot more.

Neil Thompson

I think that the honest answer is that, online we're following our own agenda. It's been pretty successful for us over the last four or five years. I think we're focusing on what we think we can drive and that's where our energies are going to go. Do think it's possible to introduce large-scale, exclusive IP along the lines of Forza, Gears of War or Fable at this stage in a console's life-cycle?
Neil ThompsonAbsolutely - why do you ask the question?
GamesIndustry.bizBecause it seems that a lot of the current large IP is sequels. There hasn't been a big new exclusive IP for a while.
Neil Thompson

I don't think that there's a barrier. In some ways it gets easier as you're as broad a platform as we are now. Investing in big IP, be they new or second or third iterations of existing ones, is easier when you know you have a bigger base. It's harder when you're first launching a console because you have to make a bigger investment.

Stephen McGill

Obviously we're not going to announce any third-party products on their behalf, but one that we've announced, that we're going to be developing with Crytek, is Kingdoms. That's a brand new IP that has a really good future next year.

Neil Thompson

Yeah - I'd also say - we were chatting to someone earlier and they asked the question, what had we learned over the last five years on this journey we've been on. One of the things we've learned is - you need great content. Evolving IP is a part of that journey, and it's a necessity really to being a successful platform holder.

People came to our platform early because of the gaming experiences, we keep offering them the content that they want as well as the customers who maybe want broader content.

GamesIndustry.bizSome people have, perhaps inevitably, questioned whether the shortage of Kinect units was managed to stimulate higher demand - is that the case?
Neil Thompson

Anyone who actually works in the business of producing new technology, especially hardware technology, will know that these things are never managed. Everyone else loves to think that they're managed, but they will know it's not. It's a function of coming to market with a brand new innovation and you have to scale up.

The choices you always have are: do we launch in November or do we wait until February, March when we could hit some bigger launch numbers but then we miss Christmas. So you're always in this fine balance, saying 'well, we want to give people the product as soon as we can, but you can't switch on the manufacturing like water.' It takes time to scale.

It's absolutely not a strategy, we want to get the product into consumers hands as quickly as we can because we think its exciting, it's innovative. We wanted to do that for Christmas and that's what we've done. We've built a really strong supply and resupply chain over the coming weeks.

As I said to people at launch, demand is exceptionally strong, and that certainly isn't abating at the moment - we're still seeing strong demand, but there is a lot of product coming into the country now and over the coming weeks.

Stephen McGill

I think another thing to remember is that often consumer electronics companies and games companies have staggered their launches by territory by some quite considerable margins. With Kinect we launched around the world in three weeks. That was a huge task. No region is being penalised.

We're trying to make sure every region has a good amount of stock every week. That can't be underestimated either.

Neil Thompson

That's absolutely right, and when we first launched Xbox originally and the European launch was significantly after the US launch, I was having similar conversations with peers of yours at the time, who would give me a really hard time over them not launching at the same time.

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