The Xboss

Microsoft's Stephen McGill talks Kinect.

It's finally here - the new peripheral we've all been waiting for. Well, some of us have been waiting for. And technically it's not a peripheral - it's a whole new platform, a brand new expanded multimedia entertainment experience which will revolutionise social interaction in exciting new ways and offer us new options for engaging with the home entertainment interactive experience in revolutionary and exciting new interactive ways.

That's right, we've been spending too much time with Microsoft. To be specific, with Stephen McGill, head of the UK Xbox business. We caught up with him just before the European launch of magic camera Kinect to find out what it's all about, what's in it for hardcore gamers and why he trusts shopkeepers over Sony.

Eurogamer: So here we are - Kinect is arriving in Europe. How confident are you that it really will revolutionise the entertainment whadjamacallit?

Steve McGill: On a scale of one to ten, 25.

Eurogamer: Why not 26?

Steve McGill: Because I can't be too extreme. I'm definitely a ten out of ten in terms of seeing people play Kinect for the first time - seeing their faces when they control the dashboard with their hands or their voice, see a ball and kick it with their feet...

The magic of their first experience of Kinect is phenomenal to watch. It's been mindblowing for us to watch people's reactions. It's going to be incredibly wonderful and revolutionary and extraordinarily magic.

Eurogamer: When you talk about people's reactions, are you talking about the mainstream audience you've shown Kinect to? What about hardcore gamers?

Steve McGill: Hardcore gamers is the label people put on people who follow gaming sites, who read E3 news and stuff. They're familiar with Xbox and Kinect and they have an opinion of Kinect. They at least know what it is.

So the trial tour's been predominantly focused on introducing Kinect to a broader audience. That said, the first people queuing up on that tour were the hardcore gamers. That wasn't a surprise.

Now people can see the whole package and see that it's cool technology. The key thing is it's something for everybody - Kinect appeals to all different types of people, casual and core gamers.

We announced some core games at Tokyo Game Show and we'll be showing more of them in the months ahead, but I think the games we've got for Kinect for launch and through Christmas will surprise people. Core gamers may not have expected some of these games to be as appealing as I know they're going to find them.

We have to make sure these games are incredibly accessible but we have to make sure there's depth for the gamers who want to find it. So whether it's the different difficulty levels in Kinect Adventures or building up your points as you go through Kinect Sports, unlocking awards for your avatar, props, clothing et cetera - those are all core things for core gamers.

And let's not forget something like Dance Central, done by the guys who did Rock Band - they have a huge heritage in that music genre. So don't tell me Kinect's not for core gamers. I'm a core gamer, I'm loving it and it's great for both audiences.

Eurogamer: All the UK retailers have been claiming their launch allocations are spoken for. How big is that allocation?

Steve McGill: It's big, bigger than we had for Xbox 360. Consumer demand seems to be really positive so lots of retailers have proactively said they've run out of day one stock and stopped their preorder allocation. It depends on the retailer.

The key thing for us is Kinect is clearly going to be the must-have product for Christmas. The responsibility for us now is to make sure we've got the boats, the planes, the vans to continue replenishing stock throughout Christmas.

Eurogamer: A cynical person suggested to me this is quite a typical business model; you deliberately don't make or distribute enough units to meet demand, so you can then say it's sold out at launch...

Steve McGill: I could have a lot more than I'm going to get and still say it's sold out. So it's not a marketing ploy, trust me. It's just a case of launching across the globe in three weeks is no easy feat. We can only manufacture at the speed we're manufacturing, the lines are working 24-7.

Eurogamer: In the past we've seen Wii and Wii Fit shortages happening at Christmas... How are you going to avoid that scenario happening to you?

Steve McGill: By making sure they really do work 24 hours, seven days a week.

Eurogamer: By making those sweatshop workers do even longer hours! Up the wages to 15p!

Steve McGill: Actually it's about making sure there are enough vans. It's the transport off the loading docks and to the retailers - that's one of the trickiest logistic nightmares you face with consumer electronics.

Eurogamer: Why not just get a load of mini cabs?

Steve McGill: Hah! I'm hoping there will be hundreds and hundreds of thousands of consumers getting Kinect this Christmas.

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