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Microsoft: "70-80% of publishers doing Natal-based games"

Bach reveals breadth of commitment for Natal from third-parties

Microsoft's Robbie Bach has said that 70-80 per cent of games publishers in the world are committed to releasing Natal-based games.

Speaking to the Financial Post at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Bach also confirmed Microsoft's first party studios were currently very focused on releasing early Natal titles that will "show the way" to third parties, and reiterated Microsoft's view the 360 still has enough power to deliver new innovative experiences, negating the need to launch updated hardware in the imminent future.

"We want to have a few titles from Microsoft that show the way and then we want the breadth and power of the ecosystem from our partners to bring lots of new ideas, new innovations, new concepts to the marketplace," said Bach. "Xbox games don't go away; you have to think of all this as additive. I think it adds to the beauty of what's going on."

According to Bach, Sony and Microsoft are in a better position today than Nintendo in terms of the future of their consoles.

"There's still plenty of power available in the Xbox 360, there's still plenty of power available in the PlayStation 3. Nintendo probably can't say that. They may have a capacity and a power problem on the graphics side that they need to deal with. But when I look at the [overall] cycle, I think there's still plenty of upside given what we have today.

"The console world has changed fundamentally in a very important way: Innovation doesn't require new hardware. The fact that we can deliver a new Xbox Live service every year is a very powerful thing and completely changes the experience without changing the console, without requiring the industry to reboot every five years.

"The fact that we can introduce something like Project Natal and have it work on every Xbox 360 and create an entirely new way to interact with the system speaks to all of that. For the industry, I think this is a tremendously positive thing. For consumers I think it's tremendously positive.

"The thing you have to be careful about, and the thing we will watch intensively, is you have to keep producing innovation. I know we've started down the back side of the cycle when I say 'hey, there's innovations and ideas we have that we can’t implement on the system.' That’s when you have to start thinking about what’s next."

Bach also touched upon Microsoft's business model for the 360, saying that it will be far easier for third-parties to make money from titles developed for Natal than it is on Wii.

"Our model is certainly about third-party publishers making money," he said. "We design our system for third-party publishers. We use our first-party business - Halo, Alan Wake and those sorts of things - to show people the way and to drive innovation. Nintendo, and this is no disrespect, just has a different model. They make most of their money through first-party games that Nintendo produces. That's absolutely their business model. And it's a great business model, it's just different, but it makes it hard for third-party publishers."

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