Speaking again to Engadget
, (the second year in a row the Blog has impressively courted an audience) Microsoft chairman Bill Gates spoke on all things Xbox.
On the well-publicised hardware shortages, Gates offered, “The only problem we’ve got is we’ve just got to make them faster, we’ve actually ramped up as fast as anybody ever has, but demand is still way ahead of us. The demand was phenomenal, and we did add Celestica as a third manufacturing partner. We think by the time we get to the 4.5 to 5.5 million unit level that the backlog won’t be all that substantial. So obviously it’s a good news situation, but we want to meet all the demand.”
Gates also touched on Halo 3 – the FPS update currently underway at Bungie and one of the most anticipated titles in production right now. “I have to make sure that any speculation about that is — it’s up to the team when they want to ship that, and they’re going to take their time to make that a super great product. So even we don’t know when that will come out. That’s one of many games that are just phenomenal that are in the works, but it’s up to the artists to do it when they feel good about it.”
A realist, Gates was absolutely clear on the strengthening Sony PlayStation 3 buzz, explain “...it depends on our execution, it depends on Sony’s execution. This is a business we’re committed to, so we’re just going to keep doing our best. We actually think the size of the market will grow quite a bit because of the idea that we’ve got music and photo capability, we’ve got this Arcade thing to appeal to different age groups, and we’re going to get a better breadth of games this time, so we think the overall total units between us and our competitor will actually be quite a bit bigger this time around than it was last time, and that’s good for all of us.”
And onto the HD-DVD drive and Microsoft shock announcement of a satellite drive for its console. Gates defends the decision, though is interestingly vague as to the deployment and usage. “There’s no fragmentation here. The developers are creating games that run on the DVD-9 format that’s in every Xbox, and whatever we do with the drive, they’ll all be upwards compatible with that. So that’s how the games are written and it’s a very clear message that lets game developers get huge volumes and payback for the big investments that they make.”
Stay tuned to SPOnG over the next couple of weeks, when we expect to bring you an exclusive interview with a high-ranking Microsoft executive bottoming out, amongst other things, the HD-DVD drive issue.
You can read all about the HD-DVD drive for Xbox 360 here
, and an update on 360 hardware availability here.