Xbox's Stephen McGill

Microsoft's Entertainment boss talks Halo: Reach, Natal and more...

2010 is shaping up to be one of the biggest - and most interesting - years in Xbox history.

With a raft of exclusives already confirmed - four months before E3 - and intrigue over Project Natal hitting fever pitch, it's a good time to get the inside scoop.

Here, director of Xbox and Entertainment at Microsoft Stephen McGill tells CVG what the year has in store for Xbox 360 fans...

How would you characterise your line-up for 2010?
2010 will be the biggest line up of high quality, blockbuster titles and exclusives ever witnessed from Xbox.

We've heard from Microsoft a few times now that Xbox 360 is only halfway through its lifecycle. What makes you think it has what it takes to last another five years?
Xbox 360 is the best entertainment value today, and it will continue to be in the future when we launch Project Natal - as it will work with every Xbox 360 sold and those sold in the future.

We're always looking for ways to enhance our current generation hardware offerings, whether that is through software, cutting-edge services over Xbox Live or innovations like Project Natal.

Can you promise us that the horse hasn't bolted in this sense - that you still have plenty of huge exclusives left to reveal throughout the year?
We've got a great portfolio of games launching this year and through our commitment to game add-ons, these game experiences don't just stop at the end of the disc but expand infinitely.

Splinter Cell: Conviction is obviously a massive third-party exclusive. Are you hopeful you can secure more of these before the year is out?
With the launch of Project Natal at Christmas 2010, we've already been able to rally support from the industry's top publishers who, together, account for 70 percent of third-party console software sales and who are actively working on games for Project Natal.

You've already announced/released a huge array of games - many of them exclusive titles. With GDC and E3 round the corner and the dawn of Natal upon us, could you look back at the end of Q4 to see 2010 as having provided the most exciting annual line-up in the history of Xbox?
From the beginning, Xbox has always had a very deliberate strategy to focus on core gamers and then expand the market. If we do this right, we'll continue our growth as a platform with something for everyone, whether it's the best AAA titles, downloadable fun for all with Xbox Live Arcade and Game Add-ons, or a selection of on-demand HD TV and movies for the whole family.

Can we get a sales update? How are you tracking since launch globally and in EMEA - and how does that sit vs. the competition?
Unfortunately I can't comment on sales forecasts. However I can say that we're coming out of a very strong year for Xbox, where console sales across EMEA reached 10 million in November last year.

We brought live TV to Xbox 360, with Sky TV in the UK and Canal+ in France and by delivering relevant and exciting content, Xbox Live experienced unparalleled growth over the year.

Project Natal is looking like the most exciting hardware release of the year. Microsoft has already said that the opening software line-up will be casual in nature - but do you think it has the ability to cross over into the hardcore market as well in future?
Absolutely. We will still continue to make controller-based games that our fans love - like Halo and Gears of War. Project Natal will complement, not replace, the experiences on Xbox 360 and it will allow us to add a new dimension to our game portfolio and invite more people to play than ever before.

  1 2