We can look at the landscape right now of what's out and what's coming that we know about; Natal's still out there, ODST just shipped, Reach is coming, you just had a great summer, Forza... but what do you think you're going to be talking about a year from now? As much as you can say, where do you think you're going to be at the next Tokyo Game Show?
PS: That's a good question! I was here at the last Tokyo Game Show; we weren't sure how Project Natal was going to come along -- whether we were going to be talking about it at all. I feel like we're in a great position: we've got the best exclusive content this holiday; we're at the right consumer price points; we continue to evolve with new IP and existing franchises; Natal continues to excite both the consumers as well as the publishing community...
I think that next year at this time, the lineup that we're going to have of content and services on our platform at the price points we're at is really going to be a high point in terms of previous generations, something that people haven't seen before in consoles. We showed some things at last E3 around social services: Sky, Canal, other things coming... It's just a continually evolving platform that is a great canvas for content creators.
Prior to the introduction of Natal, there were some moves into doing more family- or casual-oriented things like Scene It? or Viva Piñata. Were you happy with how things went on those titles, and did you find the audience that you were looking for?
PS: There's always positives and negatives to any game that you ship. This has all been kind of a rolling thunder for us. The avatar work that you see in the dash actually came out of some games that we were building at Rare, and what we said was really this whole idea of personalization and customization should be part of the dash -- part of somebody's persona on 360 -- and we were able to move that technology directly into the dash, and now it's not part of any individual game but part of a lot of experiences, even things like Guitar Hero, which I think is great to see.
So any individual release has ups and downs; I think that's true. But the trajectory that we've been on, which continues with the introduction of Natal -- I feel really good about the entertainment that we're bringing to market for everybody.
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
Has Rare been able to live up to its potential and really deliver on the platform and become an integral part of the MGS studio structure up until now?
PS: One of the things about Rare is they grew up in a very different way than Microsoft did. We didn't have the opportunity to work with them like we did with, say, Lionhead or BigPark prior to the acquisitions, which just creates more learning for both organizations. I really think we're at a point now with both the evolution of our platform and the evolution of Rare where we're going to see the best of that studio.
I think avatars last fall are an example of that; I think the games that they're working on right now are state-of-the-art in the industry. We've kind of reached this positive collision of the trajectory of the 360 and the skill and expertise and passion of Rare, something that will both accentuate one another. I think George Andreas said in the press a month ago, one of our creative directors at Rare, that they really feel now that the 360's at a point where it really maps to what Rare is about; I think that is definitely true.