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Microsoft: Xbox isn't a gaming console

CEO Steve Ballmer insists so.

For over five years millions of gamers have enjoyed the Xbox 360 as a games console. But, according to the man who runs Microsoft, it's not a games console at all.

It is, instead, a "family entertainment centre" – according to CEO Steve Ballmer.

"Xbox isn't a gaming console," he declared to the USA Today. "Xbox is a family entertainment centre. It's a place to socialise. It's a place to watch TV. We have Hulu coming. It's the only system where you are the controller. Your voice, your gestures, your body."

Ballmer said Xbox and the eight million selling motion-sensing add-on Kinect are where the "consumer heat" is.

"I think about my own family," he said. "My wife used to say, 'No, no, that's the machine the boys use,' and now she says, 'Yeah, I want to go watch movies. Let's go play the dance game.'

"It opens up accessibility to family entertainment because with the Kinect, you control these systems with your body, with your voice. We've opened up the world of content in TV, movies. You just sit there and say 'Xbox' or 'play movie'."

He added: "You go to your average 15-year-old boy, and he will say, 'I'll take an Xbox.' I want that average 15-year-old girl as excited about the Kinect, and we haven't done as good a job drawing in that broader set of demographics."

Microsoft has in recent years attempted to broaden the appeal of the Xbox 360 console with applications focused on non-gaming activities. In the UK, the Xbox 360 features the Sky Player, Last.fm, Facebook and Twitter integration and film and music streaming.

But it is Kinect that Microsoft believes has the potential to really crack the mainstream audience. "The key thing is it's something for everybody - Kinect appeals to all different types of people, casual and core gamers," Stephen McGill, head of the UK Xbox business, told Eurogamer in an interview from November last year.

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Wesley Yin-Poole avatar

Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley worked at Eurogamer from 2010 to 2023. He liked news, interviews, and more news. He also liked Street Fighter more than anyone could get him to shut up about it.