Approaching the Xbox 360's third year on the market, Microsoft Game Studios boss Shane Kim has a tricky task on his hands.
Microsoft's console has proved an unquestionable success with hardcore gamers - after all, its star titles are Mature-rated shooters Gears of War and the Halo series. But now, in the heated up battle against PS3, Microsoft Game Studios has to reach out to a new audience, and in 2008 it's taking steps with family games like Viva Piņata and Banjo-Kazooie.
At the company's spring showcase in San Francisco, we managed to squeeze in a chat with the Microsoft games boss, who answered our questions on this year's Xbox line-up, competing against PS3 and those motion controller rumours.
What do you consider to be the star of your 2008 line-up?
Kim: I don't like to pick between my children, but I think Gears Of War has the potential to be one of the biggest releases this Fall. We sold over 5 million units of the original Gears of War - we now have a much larger install base and that combined with what Epic have been able to do I'm pretty excited about what it could do.
Fable 2 I think will be huge also, we have high hopes for what Peter (Molyneux) has achieved.
Those are our biggest titles for Fall 2008.
GTA IV has just come out, how do you plan to keep pushing that on Xbox 360?
Kim: I just read that apparently 65 percent of GTA IV sold is on Xbox 360, which is huge. That's a huge victory for us. I'm pretty sure that a lot of the people that have bought GTA IV own it on two platforms but they are prering to buy it on Xbox 360. And of course we have exclusive downloadable content - and we'll be pushing that very heavily.
Sam Houser made a comment recently that Rocktar would be pushing it as much as a standalone game?
Kim: I think it's a great opportunity for them to take advantage of what is possible on Xbox 360. Clearly not every game can do what Rockstar can do with GTA IV. They're going to make money out of having it on Live - but not every game can make that kind of investment. they're going to be pushing it very heavily and we'll be working with them to do that.
Dennis Dyack mentioned that the Too Human trilogy would unfold over the next seven years - do you see the Xbox 360 being around for that long?
Kim: Absolutely. We said from the beginning that we expect the Xbox 360 to have a long tail. Clearly we didn't do that with the original xbox, which was a strategic decision we made. Admittedly, we don't have any experience doing this, but we're pretty confident 360 will have a long tail.
How does this long tail work with regards to developers comments that not having a hard-drive in some of the models and a DVD drive is a restriction - do you have any plans to address that?
Kim: You're going to continue to see technical innovation, it might be additional capabilities to the current format - but honestly we haven't made those kind of decicions yet.
As far as technical limitations? We're not seeing those. I think there's the potential for more multi-disc titles, we've already shipped a few of those already. But I don't this is so drastic that people will start saying that Microsoft made a mistake not using Blu-ray. I just don't believe that. what we've been able to see with the vast majority of titles on Xbox 360, is really great experiences not really constrained with the lack of a hard drive or a larger capacity disc.