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Bach doesn't regret huge Xbox investment

And reckons Natal will drive 360 for years.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Outgoing Microsoft E&D boss Robbie Bach has said that he has no regrets about the enormous amount of money spent establishing the Xbox business.

"Xbox to me, you know, in some mathematical way was a gigantic investment," Bach said in an exit interview with TechFlash. "And yet look, asset value paid off, earnings potential paid off, upside for the future pays off. I'd do that again in a heartbeat."

Bach also talked about how the controller-free Project Natal system can be "a midlife kicker for the 360" and a way to "really drive that business in a dramatic way".

"You know, if you think we have, what, close to 40 million consoles in the world, and every one of those consoles can work with Natal. So, there's a tremendous opportunity from a business perspective to produce a new experience for people without shipping a new console," he said.

"I mean, that's sort of the Holy Grail in many ways of the console world is how do you ship completely new game experiences without actually forcing everybody to start over again, and I think Natal certainly presents that opportunity."

The 22-year Microsoft veteran said that Natal's broader impact would need to be measured over years, not months.

"I think we'll do some great experiences out of the gate, and people will say, wow, that's really cool, and then the creative teams will really hit their stride, then the technology team will really hit its stride, and how it integrates with Live will get enhanced," he said.

"Because it's software and services oriented, you've got three, four years of some really cool innovation that can happen."

With more than 40 million Xbox 360s out in the world, Bach also believes the Xbox business is in rude health, and paid tribute to his colleague Don Mattrick, who will report direct to CEO Steve Ballmer from 1st July.

"You know, Don - Don has more experience - this is the irony of it. Don works for me; he has more experience in the entertainment space than I do, right? I mean, I've been at it 12 years, he's been at it 23. So, he's really experienced in this space. He's built a strong team, has got a great strategy going forward, and I feel really good about him."

Bach repeatedly denied that his departure was linked to anything, such as the mixed fortunes of the Windows Mobile business or a secret desire to take Ballmer's job. He also said that his and J Allard's departures were unconnected.

"It is pure coincidence, and it's one of those funny things," he said.

"That's just a little bit of serendipity that comes into all of these things, but the two things aren't connected."

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