Peter Moore's Parting Shot

Moore's last word as Xbox boss

When Next Gen met face-to-face with Peter Moore just a few days ago, it didn't realise he'd be going software-only. In one of his last interviews as a Microsoft exec, he talks defects, missing forecasts, the supposed PS3 non-price-cut and much more...

At E3, Xbox boss Moore was in it with Microsoft for the long haul. Today we know that he's going to head up EA Sports beginning in September.

Regardless, Moore has been the face of Microsoft's gaming business, and he has plenty to talk about. For instance, Microsoft had just announced that it earmarked around $1 billion for repairs of the dreaded three-red-light error on Xbox 360s. Scores of upset customers eventually led to Microsoft's decision to up the Xbox warranty and offer repairs for free.

"'A billion dollars' is not an easy thing to say," Moore says. Regardless of the linguistic difficulty, the number slipped right off his tongue, partly thanks to Microsoft's deep pockets. "I think [the new policy is] going to help us in the long run and put a lot more confidence behind the product."

What about those elusive failure rates? You'd think that once Microsoft got that difficult number out of its collective mouth (One. Billion.), any other figures would be expelled with relative ease. But no one has been able to get an official, printable figure on how many Xbox 360s have bit the dust due to the reported design issues.

Moore insists that the billion-dollar figure is "all that we should worry about."

"We're not going to say to the world what issues we have." He's quick to point out that Sony and Nintendo also change and upgrade the innards of their consoles, albeit much more under the radar. He refuses to comment on the issue, as expected.

No word on design changes to the Xbox 360 hardware, either. Moore finds no reason to go "full open kimono on this stuff." What we do know is that Microsoft found that failures were caused by a design issue, not a manufacturing issue, and the company had to "engineer around" the problem. Our curiosity continues, and according to Moore, is apparently unwarranted.

Microsoft recently announced that it had fallen slightly short of its fiscal 2007 Xbox 360 shipment goal-11.6 million vs. 12 million. Moore claims that people are "making a little bit more of a big deal than it really is," calling forecasting an "inexact science."

"In our lives we say we're going to be in a certain place a year from now in a lot of stuff- weight, fitness, quality of marriage-and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't."

Despite the inexact nature of forecasts, there is one prediction that he is sticking to, and that is that the Xbox business will sustain profitability throughout all of fiscal 2008. "We're going to do that this year," he says.

For those who have forgotten, Microsoft gaming also includes the PC platform. Although Vista as a gaming platform has improved a bit since its launch earlier this year, it is still trying to get off the ground as a full-on vehicle for Moore's proclaimed "PC gaming Renaissance."

That will come in time. The really exciting games that use Vista's exclusive DirectX 10 are looking exceedingly sharp from a graphics standpoint. Crysis, Gears of War and Age of Conan are a few DX10 games that we're looking forward to.

But it's going to take more than a few big games and one flat year of revenue to convince Moore that PC gaming is back to its full fighting strength.

"I am very worried about the health of the PC gaming business. If I take the MMOs out of it, we're still seeing a year-on-year decline for the last five years for packaged goods in the PC world.... Microsoft's going to stand up and say look, we're going to take care of this on our own dime."

Microsoft is continuing its push for PC gaming using the Games for Windows branding as PC gaming's "seal of approval."

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