Mark Rein: Unreality bites

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Having said that, I don't think Sony necessarily has to replicate Xbox Live to be successful in online games. What they really need is some quite simple and rudimentary features to start with. They need server-browser capability. Unreal Tournament has had server-brower capabilities built in for years and years. If Sony never delivered any online components to us, we'd just use our own. It isn't rocket science, we're already doing it. What you do need is inter-game communication and that's what's great about Xbox, the ability to say "come join my game". It needs a friends service, maybe some sort of scoreboard facilities - but that's not essential, developers can create their own on the web.

With an open system you can take the user out to your web page and your scoreboards. It needs voice-over-IP which I think Sony's already talked about in their E3 presentation, with a video camera and headsets and things like that. I think everybody's expectation that they've got to build a big massive Xbox Live competitor to be successful... I don't think that's accurate, I think they just need a few components, which you can go out and buy from companies today anyway.

I'm not the slightest bit worried about how Sony will fare in online, they'll do just fine and they can take a couple of important baby steps and mandate a couple of technical requirements, that's what platform holders do. Then they can gradually update it over time. In a more open platform, it's very easy for them to put a browser-like scenario in the machine and send people off to the servers or services. They're more than capable of doing all that. For Sony, it's about services, not necessarily a service.

Moving onto Nintendo and its plans for the Revolution - what do you make of its approach? Is it a system you'd look to develop for?

Mark Rein: We're definitely interested in it and we're looking forward to seeing the specifications and where it sits in terms of graphical capability. We're interested in looking at it, we've spoken to Nintendo and expressed our interest.

Do you think these next-gen consoles could hasten the demise of the PC? Ever since we've been in the industry we seem to have been hearing about its death as a gaming platform

Mark Rein: The death of the PC is so ridiculous. The PC will never die! In fact, the PC is still a great entertainment platform. I've been playing Age of Empires III a lot lately and it's not a game you're ever going to play on a console. You need a keyboard and you need a mouse and it's a fantastic game and when you're playing it, it just rules your life. I don't see a doom and gloom scenario for the PC - in fact, I think the next-generation consoles are going to help the PC in terms of people are going to be building really high end, high quality content and the PC is going to be a natural place to put that content, in addition to the consoles.

I'm pretty excited about the future of the PC. At CES this year, Dell introduced the XPS 600 Renegade which had quad SLI! This is one hell of a machine, and this is only January and they were showing quad SLI and dual overclocked Pentium 4's and really fast memory, 10000 RPM serial hard disks...

We're sensing your excitement!

Mark Rein: [Laughs] Yeah [rubs hands together] - this is just an incredible machine and it's great to see one of the giants, Dell, really caring about PC gaming. That's going to really help and I got a chance to run the Unreal Engine demos on that machine with their beautiful 30 inch monitor and I tell you what, if you'd seen that, you'd say "PC gaming is alive and well!" We were running it beyond HD, it's like 2560 by 1600 resolution and it ran quite well. So the PC will not only continue to survive as a games machine, but it will continue to do well and continue to lead as an entertainment platform, because we can always buy bigger, badder, better PCs.

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