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Hollenshead: Microsoft "in the best position" to release next-gen hardware

id CEO predicts transition will come before Xbox 360's seventh year

id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead has said he believes Microsoft will be the first out with next-generation of hardware.

"Somebody’s going to do it, and - to me - probably the player who's in the best position to do so is Microsoft, because I do think they’ve recouped a lot of the costs of their console," Hollenshead said in an interview with VG247.

"Maybe they’ll push the [Xbox 360] to year six - maybe seven - but I've got to believe that they're already planning the transition now, and they have their eye on the ball as to what it is, because I think they see that there are some weaknesses that they can exploit with what's going on at Sony," he added.

The biggest problem facing the games industry at the moment, said the CEO, is the global recession. As such, each platform holder is faced with "major disincentives" to start another console cycle.

At some point though, he predicted, "the PC is going to gain substantial competitive leverage by virtue of superior technology" which consoles will no longer be able to compete with.

That is when the industry will be forced to handle the next console transition, he speculated. Even though the PlayStation 3 install base "is still a problem for Sony", and the price points for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are atill above what can be considered mainstream or mass market.

Hollenshead also spoke about his company's recent purchase by Zenimax - an event which he said saw id acquire a publisher as much as Zenimax acquiring a developer.

There are issues with independent game development - especially for id, he said, largely caused by the decreasing number of companies in a position to work with the developer.

"Most of the publishers that were out there all had titles or teams that were internal that were in sort of our competitive area of shooters, so that created natural conflict," he explained.

"Also, the declining number of companies that we could work with - just because of companies going out of business or being bought, acquired, merged, etc - was becoming a concern."

Not that Hollenshead thinks id's situation applies to all independent developers, but he does believe it's become increasingly difficult for them to achieve a "mega-hit" alone.

"If you want a huge mega-hit, that's not a million seller," he pointed out, "it's a ten million unit seller. And to make a game that sells ten million units not only requires a lot more development time and effort to be put in the game - it requires other financial considerations as well.

"You've got to spend tens of millions of dollars - I mean, it's anyone's guess on how much Microsoft spends marketing Halo - but I have seen hundred million dollar figures bandied about. So you've got to spend huge money marketing a title. And when you take all these things into account, an independent, internally-funded developer is almost too much to ask for."

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