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E3 06: Microsoft talks power and pinatas

GamesRadar conducted a private interview Wednesday with Shane Kim, the head of Microsoft Game Studios. Speaking two days after Sony's PlayStation 3 press conference, a relaxed Kim revealed that Microsoft has not altered its course based on its competitor's announcements and movement. “We didn't change anything for our press conference. Nothing that Sony has promised is going to make us change our strategy.” He said that with the addition of the Grand Theft Auto franchise to Xbox 360, “the third-party playing field is becoming more level. Most people are going to have enough money to buy one console, so they've got to pick. What's going to make their decision?” Shane believes that Microsoft's head start with Xbox 360 will help considerably and admits that the consumer now faces some tough choices.

When asked about the somewhat dismissive reaction of hardcore gamers to the kid-friendly Viva Pinata, Kim said it was more or less expected, but “frankly, from a mass-market and consumer standpoint, the reaction has been completely gratifying.” He feels that the gamers who have been negative about the game may yet come around and give the game a chance due to the track record of Rare, the game's developer - but he's more focused on how Viva Pinata will be seen by everyone else. “[The Xbox 360 is] not just about sci-fi and shooters and fantasy, although Viva Pinata is a completely different kind of fantasy. Here's something that looks completely approachable, safe, but it’s not anything that's dumbed down.” He reiterated that games like Viva Pinata help in more far-reaching ways as well: “The industry needs to be mainstream, and we need to attract and appeal to people who do not currently play games.”

May 11, 2006