Microsoft's Phil Spencer • Page 2

On 2010, Natal and tipping points.

Eurogamer: What kind of games are in development for Natal? Are you focusing on particular genres, on social and casual experiences, or are there Natal titles for hardcore gamers on the way?

Phil Spencer: We have a number of creative people in the studios, people like Peter Molyneux and Kudo Tsunoda. One of the things we did early on was distribute the hardware to the studios to see what would come out. We're not trying to be overly-prescriptive in the kind of experiences that get built, but to let our key creative talent experiment and work with the technology and see what comes back.

Eurogamer: What's it like being Peter Molyneux's boss? Do you have to rein him in a bit? Is he always coming in your office going, "I've got an idea for another game about a dog," and you have to go, "No, Peter, you're being insane?"

Phil Spencer: Haha! Working with Peter is amazing, he's a very creative, inspirational person. Sometimes it's like riding a bull with no saddle, and sometimes it's like reading a great novel, but it's a fun experience.

Bull or novel? Both, says Phil Spencer.

You don't want to rein those people in - that's what the job's about, right? If we can have your creatives really thinking outside of the box, coming up with the things that other studios other publishers wouldn't do, that's our job. We want to paint the face of our platforms with a very creative brush. People like Peter are instrumental in that.

At the same time we're doing a bunch of testing with users to see how people react. This mix of what consumers are telling us, as well as what our key creatives are coming back and saying, is really resonating well from an experiential standpoint. Right now, when I think about the studio organisation we have, it's hard to find a place where people aren't excited about how Natal will impact the experiences they're building.

So in terms of segmenting by genre or hardcore vs. non-hardcore, you should expect that over the years you'll see Natal experiences show up on almost all of the games - similar to the way you do with Live today. At the beginning of Live it was all about sports, racing and shooting games. Now if you found a game that didn't have some kind of Live functionality it would seem like it wasn't a complete game. I think Natal is likely to get there as well.

Is this the future of gaming? Phil Spencer's wife hopes so, she's sick of him tossing and turning all night.

Eurogamer: So we could see, say, a Gears of War game where you are wielding that invisible lancer?

Phil Spencer: You know, Cliff [Bleszinski] and Epic... They definitely have the hardware. In terms of new franchises or existing franchises, we're not trying to put gates up in terms of what people can do.

That said, the magic that I've seen show up in Natal... Somebody who looks at either hardware or software on the shelf and says, 'That's not really for me,' we put these people in front of these experiences and they instantly understand how to play the game. Our tagline is, 'The only experience you need is life experience.' Put them in front of the screen, tell them to do what they'd normally do and it's amazing how quickly they're having fun.

For us, social and casual areas that we want to invest in a lot are there, but in no way are we segmented or precluding any of our developers from working with the technology. I suspect that over the years, we'll see a lot of Natal games across all genres.

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Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor  |  elliegibson

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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