Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice president at Microsoft's Xbox and Gaming Platform Group, is one of the more influential figures within software giant's growing gaming business. He has worked on Xbox since the inception of the division at Microsoft and was a pivotal figure in the development of Xbox 360.
Inside Microsoft's mammoth booth at E3's exhibit floor, Holmdahl spoke with TwitchGuru about the next generation console and its competition.
TwitchGuru: Xbox 360 has been out for several months. What is your plan to increase its appeal?
Holmdahl: There's two things. First, gamers want a lot of great games for the 360. And we've got a lot of the coming out like Fable 2, Splinter Cell, Saint's Row and others. So to have that many next generation games out before the competition even launches their consoles is huge. The second thing is, internally we have to continue to push the notion of our Xbox Live service. The service will have reached six million users this year, and it's continuing to evolve with Xbox Live Arcade and Marketplace.
TwitchGuru: Sony is obviously looking to make a dent in Xbox Live with it's Sony Network Platform. What's your sense of the competition right now?
Holmdahl: Well, we're way ahead of Sony. We're on our fourth generation right now with Xbox Live and the stuff we're doing with Live Arcade and Marketplace has been great, so I think we've got a big advantage over whatever Sony does.
TwitchGuru: Speaking of competitors, what do you think of Nintendo Wii?
Holmdahl: It's an interesting choice of a name. That's all I'll say.
TwitchGuru: How are you going about recruiting developers to get content for 360?
Holmdahl: Since we're the only next generation console out right now, it's a pretty straightforward proposition. The conversations with publishers and developers are going will and I think they see the potential to make great games on the platform. I also think that publishers are realizing that Xbox Live is a key asset to the industry. You can have dynamic relationships with your customers online. So I think there are two sides. Publishers and developers are draw to the new hardware platform and there also drawn to the online service.
TwitchGuru: Did the initial group of 360 titles take full advantage of the enhancements available on 360?
Holmdahl: Well, certainly you learn more about the platform as time goes on. Games like Call of Duty and other first generation titles certainly have beautiful looking graphics. But of course there are aspects of the architecture that developers will continue to discover and leverage as time goes on. So it just means that the second and third generation titles for 360 will be that much better.
TwitchGuru: Microsoft has acquired a few game developers in recent years. Does Microsoft plan to aggressively add to its internal development business or will you take a more conservative approach?
Holmdahl: If you look at the game developers we've acquired so far, the moves have all been about getting quality games like Halo and Fable. So we do it on a case by case basis. There's no grand plan to add a bunch of game developers. We'll continue to look at developers who have truly great titles.
TwitchGuru: Thank you for the interview.
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