We happened upon the man charged with ensuring the Xbox will be a success in Europe, Michel Cassius, in a London hotel yesterday. A jovial Frenchman with a gaming pedigree, Cassius seemed like a man without a care in the world and was more interested in honing his Dead or Alive 3 skills than talking about the imminent Xbox launch.
Question: How many consoles will there be in the shops on day one?
Michelle Cassius: We are not giving out exact figures for the UK or Europe for that matter. We are expecting to shift somewhere in the region of between 4.5 to 6 million consoles before June. We will sell out on day one, and it will be difficult to get hold of one without a pre-order for about a week
Q: How do you feel about the level of support received by Xbox from third-party publishers?
MC: It is probably the best level of support ever seen for a console. We are currently talking to everyone except Sony Computer Entertainment and Nintendo. I really cannot think of a single other publisher that we donít have a dialogue with at the moment.
Q: What about Square?
MC: It would be great to have Square games for Xbox
Q: What do you think of Sonyís little spoiler attempts, like the heavy TV campaign of late and the release of Metal Gear Solid?
MC: We only see all of this as a compliment, especially the Metal Gear Solid release. Sonyís plan has backfired a little, as Metal Gear Solid will look better on Xbox than it does on PlayStation 2.
Q: There is widespread speculation that the Xbox is nothing more than a Trojan device, designed to establish Microsoft into the lounges of the world, with the goal being to control what we watch/listen to/play and how we do it. The word ĎHomeStationí has been bandied about. What do you think of all this?
MC: J Allard used a word when asked about this recently. I think the word was bollocks! Microsoft has no need to do this. Xbox is a game console and though it does give us direct access to consumers Ė so what? We already have MSN for that via PC. We just wanted to get established in a growth marketplace like gaming. With the advent of the Xbox, many new gaming possibilities will become open to consumers, their lounge will become the world. And multiplayer gaming, and I donít just mean massively multiplayer games, will become a reality. Also, Sony is doing exactly that. The PlayStation 2 as a home-entertainment hub concept has been confirmed since E3 and was welcomed by the press. Sony has stated that the PlayStation 2 will be used to coordinate many portable and static devices through one point, such as digital cameras and Mini-Disc players. They showed their games machine set up with a mouse, a keyboard and a monitor. Itís a PC!
Q: Can you see Sony announcing PlayStation 3 soon?
A: Thatís up to Sony.