Microsoft's Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Game Studios - Shane Kim - has revealed that, among other things, he doubts that Sony can achieve its online Home network for PlayStation 3; that third-party exclusives are a things of the past; that Windows Live is the most important thing he's working on.
Speaking to Shacknews at a Halo 3 event, Kim let slip he has, "spent some time with the Linden Lab guys [developers of Second Life]. To try to build Second Life on Xbox Live --or YouTube, Facebook, any of those big social networking services and sites--it's a lot of work".
In terms of future development for the industry as a whole, however, Kim casts the notion of third-party exclusives into history, stating:
"You're not going to get exclusives from third parties in the future--not very many, anyway. The economics of the business just don't support it. It costs too much money to make and to market the titles, so third parties almost can't afford it, and hardware guys can't afford to pay a third party publisher to compensate them for the opportunity cost. You're going to see third party titles on every platform, and we can't count on third parties to do our heavy lifting. That's what the job of the first party is, and my job in particular is to make MGS competitive versus Sony first party."
Taking a further opportunity to stab at competitor Sony, he also let rip with the following piece of pitch regarding Home for PS3:
"I doubt [Sony's] ability to implement it and execute it in a really rich and compelling way.
"PlayStation Network is not Xbox Live, it's not even close. To think about layering [Home] on top of that--wow. The hardest part is not even creating the system, it's regulating the behaviour and all of that too. Boy, that's a massive investment in infrastructure. I actually believe that most gamers will always find more value in what we have on Xbox Live and now Games for Windows Live and how we're building that out, which really started all about gaming features and now has added more like instant messaging, Video Marketplace, etcetera. That's what I think is a much better approach, and that's what our approach is going to be."
Talking of Live, Kim asserts that the strategy for XBox standalone games are in fact no longer near the top of the priority list, "I want to make sure people understand that bringing Live over to Windows is important for Windows, and it's really important for Live, expanding the capabilities of those platforms. A lot of people are not single-platform customers.
"Being able to extend the same functionality and take that across platforms is really important to Live, because I think Live is actually the most important platform we're building within the company. Cross-platform play across Live is an important thing, because it's something that we're uniquely positioned to do, but I don't think it's good for people to assume that every title is going to be like that."
Also cropping up in his Sony bash is the fact that the XBox Core has still got a lot of life in it yet:
"With the Elite, and the Xbox 360, and the Core, I think we have a pretty interesting and good SKU family that offers a lot of choice. We've obviously taken that strategy of choice, whether you're talking about the HD-DVD drive or the fact that you've got a [range] from Elite to Core. There's going to be a set of customers out there that isn't hardcore gamers but that wants to tap into a high-def gaming experience with a Core system, and that will be enough for them.
"They may not buy as many games as the Xbox 360 or Elite customer, but they're still a really important part of the overall market. People say, 'Why don't you just kill that thing?' Well, that thing is a $300 price advantage versus PS3, right?"
And it's not only Sony that comes in for some Kim-analysis, Nintendo is also in his sights:
"They're about the Wii and the DS, and they maximize that business--and taking a big share of first party. I think they care a lot less about establishing a consumer entertainment platform in the home, and about creating an ecosystem for third parties.
"Their start, I think, is good in general actually for us in the industry. In the long run, if they really attract more people to the industry, that's good because we think we've got the best overall solution. And we're not that far away in terms of price point. The Core is only $50 more. We need to do a better job telling the story there and making sure we have more that's compelling for that audience. We have to compete for that audience. It's not about competing with Nintendo, it's about competing for that audience. If we're going to reach our objective of winning this generation, we've got to reach that customer."
And how does he feel about a console war in which there is no clear winner? No surprises here:
"Well, no, our objective is to be the clear winner. Would it be acceptable otherwise? I don't think it would be acceptable. This is why Microsoft is in this business, to win this generation. Certainly, I believe we're in a better competitive situation versus Sony than we envisioned we would be when we launched this program, right? I mean, they're the past two generations winner."
You can read the full interview here