Microsoft's Chris Lewis • Page 3

Xbox 360, the competition, XBLA and the next-gen.

Eurogamer: Would you allow a downloadable game to launch on Xbox Live Arcade it if went on PlayStation Network first?

Chris Lewis: We're not keen to do it. I wouldn't say never. We wouldn't be specific about that. But I'd be surprised if we saw that as something we'd encourage. But, honestly, and this is going to sound a bit contrived, we just want what our consumers want from us.

We want to be where they want us to be. We want the quality bar of what they experience from us to continue to go up. I think it has to happen. Everybody's got to do that. If we want to continue to command healthy average selling prices, which we all do, that which we offer our consumers has got to keep getting better. Despite the fact it can be irksome to have such strong competition all the time, it actually does keep us on our toes. It's great for everyone, and it makes for a very healthy race to higher and higher levels of quality of game experiences.

We've got Disney and Star Wars here. Those kinds of entertainment relationships, they're not trivial to negotiate, but they're very important for our success and ambitions in Europe, in particular, and parts of continental Europe where we haven't done quite so well in the past. What we can do there with Kinect gives us a unique position of growth at this relatively late stage in the life cycle.

Eurogamer: Is the Wii U a threat to the Xbox 360?

Chris Lewis: We're mindful of what it's doing. We were very focused on it at E3, and very keen to hear what they had to say at E3. I wouldn't trade places with anybody right now. That's the way I'd answer that question. With what you can see here, with what I know is coming that I can't talk to you about right now, both by way of content for the core, and the entertainment partnerships we're negotiating for Xbox Live, I wouldn't trade with anybody. Not to trivialise what everybody else is doing, because that's not what I'm trying to say.

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55m Xbox 360s have been sold, with 35 million Xbox Live accounts.

Eurogamer: You're excited about what's coming.

Chris Lewis: Of course. We feel very privileged to be part of this right now. Microsoft's very single minded. When we set out to do something we're tenacious in that and we're prepared to invest. From the leadership of Don [Mattrick] right down, it's very clear we have to make sure we step up to the plate and deliver the experiences, market in an appropriate way, partner with the right people to achieve number one status.

I don't want to be dismissive of what our competition is doing. They keep us very much on our toes, but knowing what I know, and knowing what I've seen, I wouldn't trade places.

Eurogamer: The Xbox 360 is in its sixth year of life. There are lots of rumours about Microsoft possibly announcing a new Xbox at E3 next year for launch the year after. Is now not the time for the next Xbox?

Chris Lewis: I would only say it's too long if things are stagnating. If developers are finding they're bumping their heads against the glass ceiling of development scope, if we weren't bringing revolutionary technology like Kinect, if we weren't able to, frankly, completely update the UI of Xbox Live without predicating that on people buying new hardware, were those things not true I might be more in agreement with your assessment.

I actually don't think it's too long if the experience continues to grow, if people continue to flock to it and they feel like they're getting great value. That is everything we're experiencing right now. That's how I'd answer that.

I'm being charged with more growth this year versus next year. Sure, I chew the back of my hand a little bit when I think about what that means. We had a very good year last year. But, I do also believe there is sufficient in what's coming and exists right now for that to be a very realistic ambition. We're not talking about any additional or new generations of hardware at the moment. We're fixated on what we've got going on right now.

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The number of Kinect-enabled games will triple by the end of the year.

Eurogamer: Companies have to think ahead, though.

Chris Lewis: Of course.

Eurogamer: In an R&D sense you would imagine that would be in the works.

Chris Lewis: Sure. As you can imagine, of course we're working on all sorts of different things. We do that all the time. Frankly, in all aspects of Microsoft, not just what we do with Xbox, our R&D investment is second to none. But to your point about life cycle timing, we're in pretty good shape.

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