Kudo Tsunoda is the general manager and creative director at Microsoft Game Studios. He's also one of the driving forces behind Kinect. Whatever your opinion of the man, that makes him a pretty big deal in the world of gaming right now.
I sat down in an interview session to quiz him on the future of the platform and what it all means for the 'core' gamer.
The man can talk quite a lot, so the interview will be coming in two parts. Part 1 is just below...
With Kinect, Microsoft is entering a brand new territory. At the moment you've got your core gamer going 'where are my games?' and you guys are going for a more casual audience. How hard is that to develop for and make sure that you get your target exactly where it needs to be?
It's interesting, because people will say 'core gamer' as a term and yet people use that term in a lot of different ways, right? And I think lots of people think core gamers are just people who like shooting people in games, or people who like action/violent games.
I think to me really, core gamers, it's more about people who like very skill-based gameplay or people who like gameplay with a lot of depth, so that the longer you play the game the better you get at it. You know, I'm a core gamer, I've been playing games since I was a little kid, and I think that's really the kind of gameplay that we try to put into a lot of the Kinect launch experiences.
We talk about making them accessible, but 'accessible' just means you don't have to learn a new control scheme every new game that you play. I mean, even as a core gamer, I hate it when I get a new game and I have to spend an hour in a tutorial mode at the beginning just to learn how the controls work. That's not fun for anybody. And then you just want to get in and enjoy the game, and I think all the games that we have, there's really good skill-based gameplay and really good depth of gameplay. I think that a lot of the launch experiences, 20 or 25 hours of gameplay, which is a lot more than you see even in a lot of action titles or things that we see as core titles today.
So, I really think that people, whether you're a core gamer or whether you've never played games before in your life, the things that make games fun is you can get in right away, you don't feel stupid and you don't know what to do, but then you can learn how to play the game over time, and that's what makes games addictive.
That's the kind of thing that we try and do with the launch titles. I really believe that skill-based gameplay, for people who don't play videogames - who play card games or board games - those games have those same mechanics. You learn things over time, you get better the more that you play, and so whether you're a core gamer or not a core gamer, those are all the things that I think make games fun for people, and that's the kind of thing that we're focused on putting into the Kinect launch experiences.
As was said before, there are a lot of core gamers saying, 'where are my games?' I know that Microsoft has indicated that that's not the audience you're going for, but then you look at Move and you see Sony is going for both. Do you think that's brought about by differences in the technology or just differences in the marketing?
I think, again, (and it's always weird when you say 'Microsoft says', because I work at Microsoft and there's things that I'm saying as well) I don't think, again... we're just not making a lot of shooters just because, hey, Halo Reach
is coming out this year, that's a pretty good shooter as it is. Fable
's a super-awesome contoller game that's coming out, obviously Call of Duty
's coming out on Xbox this holiday as well.
There's already a lot of that type of game but, again, I would just say it's not that we're not trying to make stuff for core gamers. I think anyone who gets in and plays the stuff - people say, 'oh, the games aren't for core gamers' or 'what's in it for me?' and then you get people in that actually play the game and they have a super-fun time and there really is great skill-based gameplay and that's what people like.