The Xbox 2 might well be on store shelves, if all goes as planned at MGS Redmond headquarters, by this time next year, a distinct possibility that is underlined by increasingly feverish pre-launch activities.
On the back of our exclusive news foretelling of a high-level partner briefing scheduled for mid-January comes a hard-hitting interview with Robbie Bach published in Business Week, seemingly the favourite publication of the Xbox chief or at least his press office.
Now SPOnG would like regular readers to cast their minds back to around this point in the pre-release phase of the original Xbox. Can you remember how the entire Xbox project was only about gaming. What?s more, it would never, ever be about anything else. We promise. What?s that you say? Media convergence? A secret Trojan to control music, TV, movies and the like? Honest, scouts? honour, that will never happen.
Roll on a few years and listen to Robbie Bach ? it?s quite astonishing: ?A digital lifestyle is developing that incorporates things you do online with things you do with entertainment, with things you do with gaming, with things you do with music, movies, TV. As that all comes together, Xbox is certainly going to play an important role. There's the idea that you're going to want to share what I'll call for lack of a better phrase your digital memories, whether that's digital photos or digital video.?
Enough covered? No chance! On to music:
?Music is clearly a scenario that everyone is focused on. The consumers we talk to in the MSN or Xbox or Windows teams say music is a very essential part of what they do whether it's on an Xbox or a PC or some other device.? And more on your home movies: ?The idea that you're going to want to share that, that you're going to want to have that on a network - that is going to happen.?
And in a final bombshell hidden away at the end of the interview Bach uses the ?T? word for the first time in relation to Xbox operations. ?Communications turns out to be a very important scenario as well, whether that's chat, messaging, blogging or telephony.?
Although it was never in much doubt, it is somewhat satisfying to draw a line under this chapter of the emergence of the Xbox platform. Microsoft quite simply got away with telling perhaps the biggest set of lies the technology sector has ever seen and certainly the most astounding lies in the games sector. It even branded those pointing out the obvious sub-plot as deluded ?conspiracy theorists? in public press conferences and on-the-record interviews.
So now Microsoft has gotten away with selling in its Trojan, all that remains to be seen is whether it can fairly and competently manage the critical range of roles it has assigned itself.
As ever, expect the best analysis from across the games industry, right here, as it breaks.