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Schappert: Innovation and originality are different things

Microsoft's Xbox Live chief defends the company over copycat jibes

Microsoft's corporate VP of Live, Software and Services, John Schappert, has defended the company over general accusations that it hasn't produced many original products recently, by underlining that innovation is a different thing to originality - and equally worthy of praise.

Talking to GamesIndustry.biz at E3 following the Microsoft press conference, where the redesign for Xbox Live was unveiled - including the forthcoming user avatars - Schappert responded to a question on whether he felt people gave the company a hard time for confusing the two concepts.

"I think you're spot on," he said. "Innovation doesn't mean that you have to do something completely brand new.

"World of Warcraft is a wonderful example," he continued, referencing the fact that both MMOs and roleplaying games existed before Blizzard's online behemoth was released. "It's a game that I completely love. Now I played many MMOs before that, but it was the only one I invested a serious proportion of my life in.

"I think it's easy for people to say that it's not as fresh and new as something that we haven't heard of before."

He went on to defend the avatar design in light of both Nintendo Miis and the planned PlayStation Home characters, happy for them to sit somewhere in-between the two.

"We don't want to be these stiff, rigid zombies walking around that live in the Uncanny Valley," he said, in a thinly-veiled reference to Sony's forthcoming platform.

"At the same time we respect who our consumers are, and the next level of consumers that is going to come, and I think what we've found is a great art style that is artistic, not ultra-realistic, not too 'kiddie', and allows a great level of customisation - because that's what it's really about, personalisation and customisation.

"It's an extension of your gamercard, gamertag, your achievemnents, your profile, and this is where you can make an avatar that you might use in racing games, that you might use in casual games, you can have multiple avatars. You can use them in games in future, hopefully win some items in games that you can dress your avatar with.

"So I think we settled on a pretty good art style," he added.

The full GamesIndustry.biz interview with John Schappert, with more on the originality versus innovation argument, is available now.

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