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Japanese Xbox 2 devs given free rein

MS wants "compelling ideas" and not "me-too titles" in its quest for acceptance in Japan.

Microsoft's newfound troika of Japanese development heroes will be given total creative freedom in bringing their ideas to Xbox 2 according to Microsoft Game Studios general manager Shane Kim.

"We always give our partners almost all of the license that they need. We don't want to tell any of our partners what kind of game they should be making," Kim said of Microsoft's recent announcements that Hironobu Sakaguchi, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Yoshiki Okamoto were all working on Xbox 2 titles.

Using Tetsuya Mizuguchi as an example, Kim said the creative genius behind the likes of Rez and Space Channel 5 has "a great idea for a title, we love it, we want to get behind him, and I'm confident that it's going to be successful for us both in Japan and outside."

Kim admitted that Microsoft's deal with the three developers was not exclusive, but insisted "they are going to be pretty focused on the Xbox titles," and called it "a big decision" for them to commit.

Although Sakaguchi-san last week spoke of his aims for the two RPGs his Mistwalker team will be producing, Kim wouldn't be drawn on the number or nature of the titles, stating only that the bigwigs "don't want to be doing 'me too' titles," and were instead questing after "that compelling idea".

The other thing Microsoft wants is "a passion for the platform", Kim said. "They've got to be passionate about wanting to tie their cart to our horse, and they've got to be passionate that the platform is going to enable them, whether it's Xbox or Xbox Live, for example, to help them realize their creative visions," he added.

As far as the Japanese market is concerned, however, many commentators would argue that the three developers are horses to the Xbox 2 cart rather than the other way round.

Nevertheless, it's still a major step for Microsoft in the Far East - as you might imagine given that the Japanese-focused announcements have been the company's first official word on next-generation software.

Kim echoed that sentiment. "When guys of this stature are working with Microsoft and Xbox, it really does help to validate what we've been saying and what we're going to be doing there," he concluded.