Eurogamer: Changing subject, PS3 is catching up - it's done 10.5 million units or something. Are there any lessons you take from what they have done so far?
John Schappert: Here's a lesson we take, which I don't think we learnt from them, which is never run out of stock in January. I think the takeaway is we did better than expected over the holiday in America, we were in a sold-out situation, and now we don't have stock at the stores, which allowed them [Sony] to sell more units in January than we sold.
By the way, that's the first time since the launch of that platform that that's happened. We've always outsold them two to one at least every month since they launched. Our hindsight - and hindsight's always 20:20 - is we wish we knew how many units we were going to sell, so we didn't have the stock situation we have right now. It should be remedied by March.
Eurogamer: You mentioned the Zune stuff - that you can now do wireless multiplayer games on Zune. That's quite interesting obviously because Microsoft hasn't traditionally gone for handheld gaming in this way. How is that actually going to work? Are people going to be able to buy Xbox Live Arcade games through Zune Marketplace?
John Schappert: What we didn't announce is, we didn't say 'hey, here's the new game store'. That's not the announcement that we heard. What we did say is that XNA is a great cross-platform development environment. Before, you could download for free, develop on the PC, make your game on PC any way that you wanted, and you could then join our Creators Club, download that and now put that game on your Xbox 360. It's great cross-platform; very portable. What we then showed is that now we have a third platform that we're working on the API to roll out in a future Game Studio release. So we can't do that right now, but in future that will be a third platform you can develop games for. I would strongly urge you to call on the Zune people.
Eurogamer: I should love to call up the Zune people, but I don't think you have any in the UK. I don't think it's actually launched there yet...
John Schappert: I think you're right actually.
Eurogamer: How's the IPTV service with BT coming along?
John Schappert: I don't know the particulars of when British Telecom will be launching that. I can say that it is way cool. It is awesome. I wish, as a North American, that I could have access to that. We talk about things in North America that you don't have in Europe - that is something you're going to have that I wish I had! The Guide is cool, the ability to record shows is cool. It's just really great. The software's there, so it's a matter of working to the particulars, but it's really neat.
Eurogamer: This week we've learned that HD-DVD as a standard is going to be no more. I guess you must still have bundles of HD-DVD drives lying around in warehouses - are you going to sell those off for cheap?
John Schappert: I don't know what the plans are on that. It was a low attach rate. It wasn't one of the high-selling accessories if you will. The people who bought it knew what they were buying. What I will say is that I think it circles back - it's about a gaming machine we have that actually is the best gaming machine out there, which plays 7 of the 10 top-rated games, has the highest attach rate in history of 7 games purchased per console.
Eurogamer: You say it's a gaming platform primarily, but you did want to have the HD-DVD drive - it's not like it was forced on you or anything -
John Schappert: We wanted to offer people a choice -
Eurogamer: Sure, so now with that in mind, ignoring the fact it's the competition, would you do a Blu-ray drive and are you going to do one?
John Schappert: I don't think we have any comment on that right now or any plans, but my focus is I'd rather give you community gaming and contribute to more games you can play and focus on the fact that you're walking in, you're buying that box and it plays great games and has the best online service. I think the fact that it does movies and sometimes TV shows in other territories is great but not the primary reason.
Eurogamer: But in the interest of choice, in the pursuit of choice, which is something that you espouse, surely the next obvious thing to do now that this has been decided is to make a Blu-ray drive?
John Schappert: What I'll say is we have nothing to comment there. We have no plans to announce or anything like that right now. But I'd also urge you to look at the attach rate for the HD-DVD drive.
Eurogamer: So you're saying that given that it wasn't as popular as it could have been...
John Schappert: It was a 3 percent attach rate. So again, when you're saying 'the obvious thing', you also have to take into account how did the other accessory do when you look at the future. We have nothing to comment right now on that and my focus is how we make Live better, how we get more great games and how do we empower the community. That's what I wake up and think about, and it keeps me awful busy.
Eurogamer: [The PR gets ready to kick me out.] Last, last thing - have you played Gears of War 2?
John Schappert: I've not.
John Schappert is corporate vice president of Live, Software and Services for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business. He let me play with his Zune and it was actually quite wicked.