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Peter Moore Interview

Following on from Phil Harrison’s interview with Edge you can read some of Peter Moore’s interview (just the bits where he comments on Sony) from the same magazine below:

Peter Moore
Edge: Apparently many small-to-medium-sized Japanese developers don’t yet have PS3 dev kits. How much of an opportunity exists there?

Peter Moore: It’s similar to a story I heard a couple of weeks ago. I think the challenge is that when you’re on the condensed timeline that Sony clearly is, you for better or worse have to prioritise your devkits, because you’re not getting the flow you would like, & the smaller guys are just not getting them. Clearly the Capcoms & the Konamis of this world, & the Activisions & EAs in the west, I’m sure they’re getting their devkits, but when there’s clearly a challenge in getting supply it’s the smaller publishers & developers that struggle. And we’re doing a lot of work over there with them, & they enjoy developing for 360 – hopefully that’s of benefit to us. We’ll see.

Edge: What did you think of the keynotes from Sony & Nintendo, & why didn’t Microsoft deliver one this year?

PM: We certainly could’ve. J gave a keynote that sounded awfully familiar to what Phil said, certainly in the online world, except the biggest difference is that we’re actually now delivering on it. The keynote for Sony seemed weird because it was a rehash primarily of what Kutaragi had said in Tokyo the week before. I don’t know whether Kutaragi’s meeting was hastily arranged, & whether Phil had his legs cut off from underneath him – whether the plan was that he would announce all of this & then that suddenly changed. But I’ve not seen the demos, I didn’t actually go to the keynote, so I’m waiting to see the demos themselves – the playable demos, anyway. It seems like that was really the only thing that Kutaragi didn’t show, so until I see them it’s difficult for me to comment. But I didn’t hear a lot of news that I hadn’t already heard when I was in Tokyo the week before. Certainly there was a little bit more detail on Sony’s online service plans but nothing that shocked me that I hadn’t either assumed or had heard from Kutaragi.
And then with Iwata-san again I’d already left GDC, but it seemed that everybody is now jumping on the back-catalogue, digital-download model & they’re going to have Sega & HudsonSoft committed to making back-catalogue available. All very interesting, & I guess it validates some of the work we’ve already got in the marketplace, again with Arcade & Xbox Live Marketplace itself, allowing downloads. It’s going to be interesting to see, in the case of the Revolution, how that’s going to be facilitated – a hard drive, how big it is, etc. So I think people keep their powder dry until E3. I didn’t see an awful lot of stuff. I think the challenge now for Sony is that they’re shipping this year & gamers should be able to walk up to their booth & get their hands on relatively polished games & play them on the showfloor in LA in 5 to 6 weeks from now. We shall see.

Edge: What is your response to Sony’s global rollout plan? Do you have any words of advice?

PM: [Laughs] Well it’s not easy, we’ve probably proven that. It’s an incredibly aggressive thing to do. Clearly we’ve changed the paradigm – we launched globally in November & that’s exactly what our competitor intends to do. I find it particularly interesting – I was at the ELSPA conference in London last June & my good friend [SCEE boss] David Reeves said that Europe will always come last because it doesn’t want to deal with buggy hardwear & it wants to make sure that the games are all polished – & voila, here we are, day & date. So we shall see. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting on this one. Their ramp projections are incredibly aggressive – it’s very difficult to project out this far ahead what your yields of silicon will be, & how many drives for an unproven format you can deliver. And a million a month is quite a challenging target, but they’re a great company & a formidable competitor & I’m sure they’re going to give it their best try. It’s not easy.

Edge: How are you ramping up your digital-distribution activity, & how long will it be before Microsoft begins selling full-price games via download?

PM: Well, retail is still very important in the equation, & full-price games via download, if I look at a full-price games filesize right now, that’s 6Gb, so I think it’s very important we keep the mix of how we distribute our content. Our retail partners around the world play a very important role in the distribution channel, in getting hardware out, in making software available in great selections, having shopfloor clerks that can speak about the games & guide consumers to what games they should buy – it’s a very important role that isn’t going away. We think we’ve found the right balance with things like Arcade as well as the Marketplace making demos & trailers available for download. I would be very surprised if full games are available for download in even the medium-term future. We like the idea of what we you might call an impulse purchase of an arcade game – I’m sure you’ve played games like Geometry Wars, Zuma & Mutant Storm. We think that’s the right balance in the business model – our retailers are very very important, it’s not our intention at all to encroach on their business. At the same time I think they recognise the fact that digital distribution is coming in the future but it’s going to be gated by the consumer’s ability to have that fat pipe come to their home & the flexibility of huge hard drives. Even the hard drive that Sony has lined up for PS3 is ultimately insufficient to do what they’ve announced. Incidentally, I was confused by Sony talking about Blu-ray – large media storage on disc – being the future, so I’ve got to read Phil’s presentation again just to understand how that fits together. Ultimately I think we’re all toying with [digital distribution]. A s a company we’re 4 years into the inception of Xbox Live & what it means to consumers – over 50% of our customers around the world are now connected to Live. We’ve now seen 10m downloads of digital content recorded over Live, & it continues to grow. We’ve built out the technical backbone of this thing over the past few years, & again, that’s not easy to do. So it will all be about making sure that all of us in the ecosystem can share in the business & not lock out one versus the other.

Edge: So, what happens for Xbox 360 between now & the PS3 launch in November?

Ship, ship, ship, ship, ship. I mean, the flow is improving enormously. Here in the US it’s my belief that next weekend, with the flow that I’m seeing, you should be able to walk in a store & pick up a 360 off the shelf. Again, going back to my commentary on boats, you can get a lot of consoles in 40ft containers, & clearly there’s a window of opportunity for us to continue to meet demand.
We’ve got some great games arriving now. GRAW, Elder Scrolls is unbelievable. And then of course Lara Croft’s going to ship on 360 next month. Dead Rising coming along from Capcom has got a lot of people excited. There’s a ton of great software coming up. From a firstparty point of view, Gears of War, which you’ll be able to play at E3, I think has the potential to be the game of the year. So our focus is completely on continuing to meet demand, continuing to deliver great software, continuing to deliver a great online experience, building catalogues of arcade – which seem to have been for many people the killer app for the 360; I’m not sure if that’s good news or bad news [chuckles], but people love it, & it’s attracting a broad demographic. And then focusing on growing the installed base. Viva Pinata, from the boys up in Twycross, caught a lot of people by surprise – a lot of people are excited that it’s reminiscent of the glory days of Rare – & it’s something we need to do as a company to broaden the reach of the Xbox from beyond what you might call the hardcore gamer. As an industry we need to bring in people who ordinarily maybe wouldn’t consider a console purchase, & an innovative game like Viva Pinata certainly has the chance to do that.

Edge: Getting back to competing consoles, it seems that some people want to hold off from buying a 360 & wait to see what PS3 offers, in much the same way that a lot of people held off from buying Dreamcasts because of the promises Sony made for PS3. Is that frustrating?

PM: The Dreamcast question for me is obviously unique because I was the guy who launched it here in the US & had to to live through that period of time. And now, being at Microsoft for the Xbox 360 launch, when you lay out the completely different situation between where we are today & where Sega was with the Dreamcast, coming off a pretty disastrous period of time with the Saturn having been pulled from the market….

Edge: Just to clarify, we’re not likening Microsoft to Sega – this is more a question of Sony’s…

PM: …tactics of trying to freeze the market in advance. It was very clear to us 3 years ago that that would happen. And, going back to my earlier comment, the best way to deal with that is to continue to fulfill demand until they get into the marketplace. We’ll have to see how big our installed global base lead will be, how good our second-generation software will be, how many games we will have, how even more evolved Xbox Live will be, before they ship their first console. They’re also putting other co-dependencies such as Blu-ray around it. If Blu-ray doesn’t win the format wars, I’d say that was a little bit of a challenge for PS3. To say the least.

Edge: OK, final question: who is the most important man in gaming?

PM: Boy…It’s a very good question. I think… I don’t know. One would argue that, with the pressure now on Sony as a corporation, & the reliance upon the PlayStation delivering what it needs to do for the financial health of the Sony Corporation, & on the amount of co-dependencies that PS3 has, not only as a gaming platform, but also for Cell technology & Blu-ray… ‘Important’ is probably not quite the right word but certainly the person that everybody’s focused on is Kutaragi. In my humble opinion.