Interviews// Industry Insights: Xbox Reveal Edition

Posted 21 May 2013 16:53 by
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Hashtag Xbox Reveal! Microsoft is preparing to blow the lid off of its next-generation console in just over an hour?s time, and SPOnG has been asking around to see what industry pundits are hoping to see from tonight?s announcement.

We scoured the industry domain - developers, PR people and fellow games journalists - to get a slice of opinion that may (or may not) match up to your own. Of course, not everyone we approached could answer the questions we forwarded them ahead of Microsoft?s official unveiling. But these guys were more than happy to do so - here are their thoughts.


Ste Pickford - Co-founder, Zee-3

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
Well, all the rumours have primed us for a box that needs a permanent internet connection just to play a game, which I don't think anybody wants, so I'm hoping that either the rumours were false, or that they've dropped that 'feature' in a mad last-minute panic. What I'd most like to see, although I'm not holding my breath, is a system that's open to indie developers, where people like us can reach an audience on the platform without prohibitively expensive entry requirements.

What are you most fearing from the new Xbox? 
I guess my biggest fears are also my main expectations, that we'll have a box that is more focused on selling streaming media and pushing social interactions than it is about providing video games, and with an interface that's designed primarily around pumping advertisements in our face than accessing our games.


Stewart Gilray - CEO, Just Add Water / Oddworld Inhabitants

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
That Microsoft decides to let third parties self-publish on XBLA.

What are you most fearing from the new Xbox? 
That Microsoft decides NOT to let third parties self-publish on XBLA.






Peter Molydeux - Game Designer Extraordinaire

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
When gamers are introducing their console to friends/family I want them to stop pointing at it and saying 'This is my Xbox' and instead point it and say 'This is life. It's not my life neither is it yours. This is OUR life.'

If I had any involvement with designing the new Xbox I would have refused any type of menu system. Let me tell you a little story. Last year I was fortunate to be invited to a new restaurant experience, the restaurant had no menu and you were asked to wear a blindfold. The smells suggested I would be getting a crab sandwich and I was blown away when it wasn't a crab sandwich. It was something else, I had no clue what it was but it was exciting. Did I ask what it was afterwards? No! Why? 

Can you imagine if consoles were like that experience? I'm not suggesting being blindfolded whilst playing a game (I've made a game like that before that came with Oculus Rift looking goggles that had a feature that gives the player the impression that the screen has gone black) but rather a console that randomizes the games that you play. Imagine being at work and instead of thinking 'I'm going to be playing Halo 4 tonight' you instead are forced to think along the lines of 'What am I going to be playing tonight!!? It could be Halo 4? It could also be the 3D remake of Frogger?'. Do you see?

I don't want people to look dead when playing games anymore. I want them to look alive. I want them to be experiencing the beautiful randomness of LIFE.

What are you most fearing from the new Xbox? 
I'd say that my biggest fear is that they use new technology to resell old games. I don't want to play Space Invaders again just because my fingers can control my path. I don't want to play Space Invaders again just because I can now shout 'Shoot!' to fire my weapons. I don't want to play Space Invaders again just because I can physically use my head to look around using virtual technology. I don't want to play Space Invaders again just because I can now let my all my family and friends know when I destroy a wave of enemies.

I sincerely hope that we're not playing the same games again even if they have a new twist. Let's use this new technology to create complete and fully refreshing new experiences that were previously unimaginable. 


Dan Long - Head of Comms, Insert Coin

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
The key for the Xbox launch is to see what it can actually do *beyond* what everyone expects. Better graphics and advanced AI only go so far, and it'd be great to see something truly innovative and leftfield that creates a whole new era in gaming. A lot of emphasis was placed on Sony not showing the actual console at their conference, but to be honest I don't really care what the box in the corner looks like. How many people stare loving at their console while they're playing a game?

What are you most fearing from the new Xbox?
I think the most important thing is that Microsoft don't lose sight of what made the 360 so successful - namely the way its infrastructure promotes and nurtures online communities. If they can keep the momentum going, then the future will be very exciting indeed.


Dave Cook - UK News Editor, VG247

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
I'm hoping that it really does tear down barriers for indie studios. I think it'd be remiss to say that Microsoft doesn't already work well with *some* indies but there's definitely room for improvement that's for sure. Knock down those certification and update costs, lower the price of the dev kits and then we should see a slew of interesting indie concepts hitting the format moving forward. 

I would also like to see some new IP announced for the format soon. I'm all for PGR 5, Call of Duty: Ghosts and what have you, but I'm a fan of new concepts, so I'm crossing my fingers that the third-parties will have some new things to share with us in the next few months. 

Also, a Streets of Rage sequel would be brilliant please Sega. Whenever you're ready (Love you really).


What are you most fearing from the new Xbox?
Well, current-gen development prices are rising rapidly as the expectation of what a triple-a release is reaches new heights. They blanket idea is that they need to have slick visuals, stunning soundtracks, amazing cinematics, a huge marketing drive, solid multiplayer and huge marquee talent behind them. All of that - of course - costs money, and developers these days have less and less of it, unless you're a member of the top tier elite.

So my worry is that going into next-gen mega blockbusters like Destiny or Call of Duty will get locked into sequel loops where it's slightly similar things each year or every two years, while the new, riskier and innovative IP will fail to get the sales they deserve. 

If I'm a developer working on 'quirky retro-themed platformer that is actually the greatest game you've ever played' that launches on Xbox 720 the same week as Battlefield 4, I know I'd be worried about DICE's game rendering my game almost invisible and killing my sales dead. Microsoft needs to make these projects as visible as possible on the new Xbox 720 dashboard, or else the divide between the top tier and the actual innovators and risk-takers in the indie space is going to grow even further. There's a risk of monopolising the console industry if this continues. I like new ideas, so I don't want this to happen.


Gordon Midwood - Head of Fresh Produce, Different Tuna

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
I hope it has something unique about it to differentiate it from the competition; perhaps incorporating some tech none of us were expecting, something built on Kinect maybe? Most of all, though, I would like bags and bags of nice new freshly wrapped original games.


What are you most fearing from the new Xbox?
To be honest I can't imagine being genuinely afraid of a games console - unless it has laser eyes or something? Bags and bags of unsavoury old repackaged games would make me cringe a little though. In summary I hope that the new Xbox will be like a crispy bowl of salad, bringing lots of freshness to the table.


Andy Payne - CEO, Mastertronic

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
A dedicated high spec games machine that will be very accessible to games developers and games players alike. I would like to see true cross device playability ? namely you could play your game, or at least parts of it on your phone, tablet and TV and excellent access to content via a fast, inviting, efficient storefront which is actively promoted. I would like to see a variety of different games at different prices and for this to happen, Xbox needs to be a welcoming universe.

What are you most fearing from the new Xbox?
Lack of new IP and ideas within games. Unless all developers are encouraged to develop for the platform, we could see more of the same, which can be great, but sometimes can be a tad frustrating?.


Alex Verrey - Global PR/Comms Director, MadCatz

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
Innovation in design, content, control and usability.  More power is simply not enough anymore but with that being said, I do of course hope for a truly monstrous spec which will keep the system relevant for years to come

What are you most fearing from the new Xbox? 
That I will need to sell a kidney to afford one?..



Alex Neuse - CEO, Gaijin Games

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
I'm hoping that Microsoft puts video games more front-and-center. I have so many devices at home that do TV, movies, social media, music, etc, but I only have a few devices that play games. Microsoft's new Xbox should focus more heavily on video games.


What are you most fearing from the new Xbox?
I am afraid that Microsoft has spread their Xbox functionality too thin, and that with the new Xbox, they will lose focus of what is important in the video game space. I'm afraid that they will continue down the path that they're on where smaller, more inventive games consistently take a back seat to main-stream derivative experiences.


Nathan Fouts - Founder, Mommy?s Best Games

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
That the console respects players' time and intelligence, and works to bring them great games, rather than seeking only to funnel as much money as possible from them. I hope the next Xbox continues the improvements to the Xbox Live marketplace. It's probably the best console store, which isn't perfect, but is still pretty good in terms of showing screens for games, ratings, recommendations, and searches for games. I also hope, against all odds, that there is some completely-open indie store, like XBLIG!

What are you most fearing from the new Xbox?
That it will move further away from games, siding more with streaming video, and that the number of advertisements quadruples. I also fear the DRM/Always-on specters. I want to own a high-end console, that let's me play the games I properly purchased, regardless of the system needing to check every second if I've purchased them, and kicking me off if my internet connection goes down.


Dan Webb - Editor-in-Chief, Xbox360Achievements.org

What are you most hoping for from the new Xbox?
I'm honestly hoping for more innovation from the next Xbox. Microsoft are usually on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to innovation (a la Xbox Live, Kinect, etc.) but it's things like the Illumiroom and improved Kinect capabilities that really could be the start of something truly special. I don't expect them to really feature too much at the reveal tomorrow, except Kinect.

Of course, I'm hoping that they get the basics right too, like the core games, and the advancement of their biggest asset, Xbox Live, but that's almost what's expected as a minimum. I hope they deliver that and much more. The games industry is always at the forefront of tech advancements and I hope that this generation will be no different. Sure, the games are going to be prettier, more immersive, more technical and offer much deeper experiences, but is that really enough? It depends on who you ask, but for me, I don't think it is.

What are you most fearing from the new Xbox?
I'm not sure I would call them fears, I'd call them potential concerns if anything... I guess my potential concerns then are that Microsoft are going to focus too much on entertainment and getting that family crowd rather than on focusing on core games with the next Xbox. I don't know why that's a concern though, because with all the whisperings I've heard behind the scenes it suggests that Microsoft is going big on core games in the next-generation.

I've heard the term "throwing their cash around" used more once, but of course that should be taken with a pinch of salt, as always. It wouldn't surprise me though if Microsoft use their financial muscle and take a few cross-platform franchises and make them exclusives... I mean, it's not like they have the first-party power that Sony has so they need their next-gen killer-apps. I guess that's my only major concern then... that they lose focus and forget what and who put them in this situation in the first place, and that's gaming and gamers.

I'm confident they won't do that, but hey, I've got to have one slight concern, right? Am I concerned about the potential "always online" announcement? Of course not, Microsoft are idiots if they do that, and as far as I know, they're not. I hope not anyway...

Many thanks to all that took the time to respond and/or answer our industry Q&A!
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