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Xbox Live's Early Rising: Chris Early On The Growth Of Xbox Live Arcade
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Xbox Live's Early Rising: Chris Early On The Growth Of Xbox Live Arcade

June 26, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 7 Next

With the Live Anywhere push that is happening now, how will that affect Live Arcade, in terms of bringing it onto the Windows platform?

Well, I think you’ll see a couple of things. From a player standpoint, that is, the player on the Xbox 360, you’ll have a lot more people to play with. It’s the same community, and most times you won’t even know, unless you look at the little icon next to a person’s name if they’re on a PC or an Xbox. That’s the real beauty of it, because it’s going to expand that gamer community overall.

If you do play on a PC – and I know a lot of our gamers are dual platform gamers, with a PC and a console as well – then you’ve got that opportunity to play your games on the PC as well. When you like that game, you’ll want to play it at a variety of places. The beauty of Arcade is that many people will want to play Arcade games on the PC, because it’s a place they can take shorter play sessions, whether it be at work or in a break or something like that.

There are many PC gamers who spend hours on their games, but when I sit down to play Forza, I’m probably going to sit down on the couch and spend the time with my Xbox 360 to play it there as opposed to playing it at my desk. Of course, the great thing about this for people like me is that I can go out and get Gamerpoints on a whole other platform now. [Laughs]

Do you think that’s going to be an important selling point for Live for Windows?

I do, but the thing is we are preventing people from tricking the system by saying that, on any given game you can only earn that Achievement once. So even though you’ll be able to play Uno! or Shadowrun on both platforms, any given Achievement can only be earned once.

Do you think the new users you’re aiming for in the Windows audience will take this on?

History certainly shows us that there are plenty of PC gamers out there who appreciate good service, and Xbox Live has a lot of great features, so bringing so bringing the whole Live service to the Windows environment can’t be a bad thing. You’ve got those places to go and see relevant leaderboards, and it’s a great way to invite friends into games across multiple platforms. It’s very exciting.

It obviously creates a lot of challenges for Live Arcade developers as well, though.

Well, there’s going to be challenges writing for any platform. The two ways that we go about trying to make it as easy as possible are, firstly, we took the development toolkit – the XDK that we developed for Live – and we’re making it as similar as possible for the Windows environment.

The other thing goes back to what I was saying before about Game Studio Express – development tools that are designed to work across multiple platforms to make coding easier. The Holy Grail is to write once, and then play on many platforms. We’re not there, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get there, but particularly with Game Studio and the whole XNA framework we’re a lot closer than we have been before.

So it’s something you’d like to see picked up by more major developers, then?

Yes, the Game Studio Express is obviously a hobbyist level creator for games, although it is being used by a number of professional companies as well, but there’s an XNA roadmap that involves studio versions of Game Studio as well. It has a lot more tools that will aid in development.

What about the different markets that exist with the PC and 360? Are you having to think differently about the way that you’re promoting games and about the kinds of games that you’re putting out there?

Well, we do look at the demographics of the people who come to our different access points and portals and that’s probably the way that is best to think about it. Certainly there is a much more diverse audience for the PC than exists on the 360 today. As a result, you’ll see our portfolio move will move to the demographics that’s being served. For example, on MSN Games, we know that there are a lot more women playing the games, and there‘s a lot more preference for word and puzzle games on that site than there is on Xbox Live Arcade.

So we won’t necessarily see the games that are appearing on MSN Games on Xbox 360?

I think that’s partly up to the developers. We’ve had more and more developers talking about the beauty of being able to use something like MSN Games as a proving ground. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see all of the most popular games on MSN Games making their way onto the Xbox 360.

That being said, I’m going to go back to the question of portfolio management as well: some of the games on MSN Games, like the breadth of puzzle games, you probably wouldn’t see that on the Xbox 360. Over time, as the user base broadens and the demographic increases I think that will start.


Article Start Previous Page 6 of 7 Next

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