Interviews

Microsoft: '2011 is incredible for Xbox'

MS senior producer Kevin Unangst discusses Kinect, Xbox and Games for Windows...

Microsoft has undeniably seen huge success with 360 motion cam Kinect - which according to MS figures has already shipped eight million units, and "far surpassed" five million sales in its first 60 days on the market.

Yet despite some promising TGS announcements there's still an air of concern over the light selection of 'core' game offerings on the horizon for the innovative add-on.

We sat down to calm our fears with senior producer of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, Kevin Unangst, who promised CVG that the Xbox motion camera is "going to be nothing but exciting from now on".

Zoom

We've already seen Windows 7 phones adopting Xbox Live. How are you looking to evolve that convergence?

The first step is clearly bringing the Live service over; Achievements, friends, the common network. I think What you'll see more of is things like what we're doing with Fable Coin Golf with actions on the phone having an impact on the console, being able to earn gold on the phone and having that transfer over to the PC version or the console version of Fable. Things like with Full House Poker being able to play on the phone and unlock items on the console or have your bank gold transfer over. I think that's the first step, it's a bit step but it is the first.

Over time I think we're going to push that as far as we can go. We showed a video at a recent conference that talked about how we can take Kinect data and send that over to the Windows phone. The video we created used real working code where someone on the console can interact with someone on the phone, who can receive things like skeletal data. It boggles the mind the kinds of experiences that could arise once you get that connectivity and identity. Whether it's Avatars, there's lots of interesting things you can do to tie together all the unique assets and threading them together.

Do you think you're finally delivering that 'Live anywhere' promise that Bill Gates talked about in 2006?

I think we're certainly starting to see it. We always had the vision it's just the platforms have started to catch up. We're delivering those pieces that we talked about years ago but it doesn't change the focus. It's a unique starting point to be able to connect all the consoles but what matters is that you can't lose sight of making great experiences on each platform.

Zoom

That's why we're going to push the console forward. Kinect did fantastic in the holiday, it did incredibly well for us but being able to push that forward by bringing more new games for that audience but also getting it in the hands of great developers that can make great core games. Things like the Twisted Pixel folks with Gun Stringer, Tim Schafer who is doing the family stuff to start but imagine the possibilities when these developers get that in their hands.

That's the console side but to work on the phone we're going to continue to bring out more new games, which are coming at such a quality that we can do Summer of Arcade-like campaigns. What we're calling 'must have games' will ship this spring, including Plants Vs Zombies, Angry Birds and then unique games that are going to come from Microsoft Game Studios.

We just updated Halo Waypoint on the phone. You can do things with your friends and career management. It's also great to see us come back to one of the biggest franchises in our history as a company with Age of Empires Online. Gas Powered Games were already building great content for AOE so just having their vision and passion is going to make it even greater.

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