Eurogamer: We recently reported that Microsoft dropped a chip from Natal in favour of a software solution, in a bid to lower the price point. Has that changed the nature of the games being produced?
Phil Spencer: The games we've been creating have been in development for quite a while. As experienced with the launch of any new platform, and I consider Natal a new platform, the technology evolves, gets better and improves. That's totally what we've seen with Natal.
The feature set is very broad. You have facial recognition, voice recognition and full skeletal mapping, and all of this functionality is folding into one release. With the steps the platform team continues to take, more and more you can see how the games are going to be at launch, you can see the finality of the experience.
Going back to risks, there's always a ton of risks in getting things done, but it gives me a ton of confidence that we're on track to ship games that will really collect customers.
Eurogamer: Has the removal of the chip changed the Natal experience compared to what we've seen of it so far?
Phil Spencer: As you can imagine, there have been hundreds of decisions made on the technology. The goal is always to make the games better and the experiences better. In no way have we had to cut back on the development of the games we're doing - they're more feature-rich today than when we started them a year ago.
Not just because we're a year forward in development, but because we continue find new ways to use the technology. The progress on the overall technology of Natal is nothing but positive, we feel very good about it.
Eurogamer: Was the decision to drop the chip related to cost? As has been suggested, was it to keep the price of Natal below the £50 mark?
Phil Spencer: The reason we make any decision with the platform we're building is always to look for the right experience for the customer... That's why we've made the decisions we have on Natal to date and will continue to make them towards launch. It's not about the plastic we sell, no disrespect to my friends on the hardware team. It's about the experiences that will light up customers and that's the path we're on.
Eurogamer: Are you hoping to get the price below £50?
Phil Spencer: We know that price is important. Xbox 360 has shown that we're conscious of price points, and I think the price drops we've done have resonated very well. The momentum we've had in '08 and '09 is a combination of the value of our platform and the content we have.
We understand, going into Natal, it's the same equation - we have to offer experiences and hit price points which really resonate with consumers. This is a broad consumer product. It's for the entire audience which has 360s today and the millions of people who will buy 360s because of Natal. We understand that only works if we hit consumer price points.
Eurogamer: Looking at what Sony's shown of the PS3 magic wand so far, how do you think Natal matches up? Are the two technologies offering very different experiences?
Phil Spencer: I think they're completely different. I don't think it's any secret that we looked at controller-based motion control for quite a while. We finally made the decision that we're not about following, we're about creating something new and unexpected. We wanted something where there's no interface and no abstraction between you and the games you want to play, and that was our focus.
I think any form of control, be it magic or not magic, is just an incremental step that other companies have already shown. For us this is about something brand new and I think Natal shows that. I don't think there are any similarities between the technologies, or the experiences for that matter.