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Kinecting People

Microsoft's Chris Lewis on price points, target audience and the evolving software mix for Kinect

GamesIndustry.biz Sampling is definitely something that worked strongly for Nintendo with the Wii as well, so it's a good strategy. Looking ahead 12-18 months down the line, what's your sense of what the balance of Kinect and non-Kinect games will be? Do you envisage games with which you can use a normal controller or Kinect experiences? Do you see lots of Kinect-exclusive titles coming out?
Chris Lewis

That's a great question - I think you'll see all of those things. Certainly over the launch phase and this Christmas in particular I think you'll see very much pure Kinect for 360 experiences that will appeal to the broad young/older/female/family audiences I described earlier.

I'll say again, at the risk of sounding like a cracked record, that doesn't in any way, shape or form represent us stepping away from the core - which is why, during the press conference at E3 for example, we spent a good solid chunk of time around Halo Reach, Gears of War and Fable. And there will be more coming from us, and our third party partners.

But to answer your question, will we see more of these hybrid experiences coming, where you can complement what might ostensibly be a controller-based experience with gestures, voice and physical movement? Yes, I think that will come. I think there's an overlap there, a logical and a good one.

Again, without compromising on the experience, making sure it's incremental and generally advantageous to the experience, then you'll see those types of experiences coming over time. And therefore I think all of the different types of gaming experiences you describe will become available over the coming 18 months or so.

I think the key there once again is choice - it's not like we're trying to force anyone down a particular route. It's interesting that a lot of the consumer excitement, when you put people in front of Kinect for 360, is just the navigation through their movie collection; navigation through the dashboard; that physical movement to control their Xbox 360 - it's actually really exciting for people... not just the gameplay, which in and of itself is very immersive.

The navigation, the communication, the video chat - those kinds of things - very intoxicating for our consumers when we watched them in front of Kinect for 360 as we have done through the tests we've been through.

GamesIndustry.biz I can believe it, having watched the E3 press conference - I wonder if that will be enough on its own for people to part with £100-plus, however. I guess we'll see.
Chris Lewis

We're confident it will - early signs are very positive.

The other thing that we're excited about is that this past weekend we shipped our 250GB new slimmer console that Don [Mattrick] showed at E3 and we've had a fabulous sales weekend. The Uk went up 1000 per cent week-over-week with an 84 per cent market share.

It's only a couple of days of sales, but it does further enforce the appetite that people have for the Xbox 360, and excitement for the 250GB slimmer, quieter version in Liquid Black. And the 4GB version that's coming at the end of August, and will also be available as part of the bundle with Kinect for 360 - again, we're excited about what that's going to represent for families over Christmas.

Chris Lewis is Microsoft's VP of the Interactive Entertainment Business in Europe. Interview by Phil Elliott.

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Phil Elliott