Seamus Blackley, the co-creator of the Xbox and the man credited with gaining sponsorship for the project at Microsoft board level, has spoken out about his departure from the company yesterday and his future plans in the games industry.
To our huge surprise, it turns out that Blackley will be forming a new company with several “games industry veterans,” not least Kevin Bachus, also a former Xbox high-level staffer.
"This new venture is a new kind of game company, it's not a strict development house," said Blackley. "Several months ago I was approached by a few game industry veterans who wanted me to join them on a new venture. It was pretty clear to us that there were some things we could do to develop games and bring them to market that hadn't been done before. They went out and started talking to people and generated enough interest, and then it came time, after the Game Developers Conference in March, for me to say whether I was in or out."
No details have yet been disclosed about what the new company may focus its attentions towards, though Xbox and PC development is likely.
"The timing of this announcement was unfortunate, because a lot of people are connecting my departure with the Xbox European price reduction," said Blackley. "I wasn't fired with prejudice or looking for a way out because I think Microsoft is screwed with Xbox. I think Xbox is doing well and will continue to do well, and I want to develop for it. I've been dealing with this decision for a long time, and it has nothing to do with Xbox's future, it's about my future. Also, regarding the news that has been made with regard to Xbox in Europe, Microsoft did not reduce its sales expectations in Europe by 40 percent," he continued. "It simply reduced the price. I'm a creative guy, so I had little to do with the business side of Xbox. I dealt with the hardware and the game development community."
This news has the potential of escalating into something of a scandal, and at the very least raises some questions about the operations of both Blackley and Bachus. The two leaving the firm after working so closely together, speaking to the same people and then forming a new games firm must have raised a few eyebrows at Microsoft.
It is also something of a PR scoop for the pair. Two high-profile departures will shift industry focus to their next moves. The mere existence of this new company will soon be indelibly marked upon the wider gaming subconscious.
As always, we’ll keep you fully updated as this progresses.