Although it’s probably too late for Microsoft to reverse the fortunes of the Xbox in Japan, Peter Moore (in charge of Xbox Marketing), during a recent interview with Nikkei Business, has been adamant that the corporate monolith has learned from its mistakes. Moore attributed the Xbox’s failure to capture imaginations in Japan as an issue of size and design – promising that the next Microsoft console will be smaller and sleeker than its cumbersome predecessor.
Obviously, the Xbox 2 (or Xenon) has to represent a step forward technologically, but in order to keep the console’s girth to manageable proportions, to keep the costs down and to have production ready at the earliest possible stage, Microsoft will have to look closely at which storage media to utilise. Toshiba and NEC are rather keen to have Microsoft using their HD-DVD format (High Definition Digital Versatile Disc), but due to cost issues, standard vanilla DVDs might be preferred. The same question mark hovers over the possible inclusion of the HDD.
Contrary to what many had expected, the Xbox 2 may also resist the urge to push the concept of convergence into the gaming public’s culture. Although it should still see movie and music playback, broadband compatibility and even a voiceover IP telephone function, Moore has drawn the emphasis away from the notion of an all-consuming everything-machine. “First and foremost we’re creating a games machine”, and apparently one with considerably more Japanese appeal. Microsoft is looking to create a more substantial line-up of games to launch alongside the machine and will also be catering more amply for this market with a greater proportion of Japanese-developed games and RPGs.
Having been stung be Sony’s two year head-start on the current generation of consoles, Moore is also keen to point out that this shouldn’t happen again, with the simple statement “We won’t fall behind our rivals”. But with at least another year before we can expect even the most preliminary unveilings of either Sony or MS’s machine, all this talk is unsubstantiated rhetoric at this stage. It is, however, good to note that Microsoft has expressed an interest in trying to fit in with video-game tradition, rather than redefine it, and this could see the brand’s popularity improve in Japan – arguably the most traditional video-game market in the world.