With this Christmas looking like one of the busiest and most important in years, we spoke with Chris Lewis, Regional Vice President, Xbox EMEA, about the current state of Xbox in the UK. Read on for his thoughts on the PS3 price cut, Bungie and the game he's most excited about this Christmas.
VideoGamer.com: We'll get straight to it with the Xbox 360 - what position does it currently hold in the UK market compared with Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Wii?
Chris Lewis: To date we have currently sold about around 13.4 million Xbox 360 consoles across 37 countries worldwide and we continue to hold the record for the highest games attach rate, at 6.3 games sold per console. For the past year, Xbox 360 has been the number one console in EMEA so we think we're in a pretty strong position and are happy with where we are.
VideoGamer.com: How do you think things will work out this Christmas for the Xbox 360? Do you think it will be the number one selling console in the UK this holiday season?
CL: Our Christmas 2007 lineup includes more than 300 high-definition titles, with the biggest blockbusters and the most exclusives. With our amazing MGS titles like Halo 3, PGR4 and Mass Effect combined with great exclusives like BioShock and broadening titles like Viva Pinata: Party Animals and Scene It? I am really confident we'll be having a very good Christmas 2007.
VideoGamer.com: What do you think of the PS3's exclusive game offerings this Q4? How do you think they compare with the 360's exclusive offerings?
CL: You only have to look at the excitement there was around the launch of Halo 3, which was the biggest entertainment launch of the year, I don't believe any other console has anything that comes close to that at the moment - even including all the other blockbusters like PGR4 and Mass Effect which are only available on Xbox 360 as well!!
VideoGamer.com: What's your opinion on the recent UK PS3 price cuts and new bundles? Do you think they will help the PS3 in terms of sales here in the UK? Are they damaging to the 360 in any way?
CL: We're not surprised that Sony made this move - the entry point was pretty high and I think they had to respond. For me this is more about content - I think we have all the aces in the pack here and I remain very confident! This announcement does not change our strategy, which is to offer gamers the best lineup ever in the history of video games, paired with an amazing value-for-money console that provides amazing entertainment experiences for all gamers.
VideoGamer.com: Now that you can get a PS3 for the same price as an Xbox 360 Elite, what do you think is the better value offering considering the PS3 comes with a built-in Blu-ray player?
CL: We have always given consumers choice - we feel this is always a better option for consumers rather than forcing them to buy something they might not want.
VideoGamer.com: Sony has very recently revealed that sales of the PlayStation 3 have now hit 1.31 million units globally during the last quarter, with PS3 software sales reaching 10.3 million units. What do you think of these numbers?
CL: We still feel that Xbox 360 is the must have console with over 300 diverse games in its portfolio. The console has also sold 13.4 million consoles across 37 countries worldwide making us the number one console on the market. We are number one in console sales, number one in software sales and number one in the online space.
VideoGamer.com: The recently announced 360 Arcade pack looks like it is aimed at a more casual gamer market and will go up against the Wii. Why should gamers pick it up instead of a Wii this Christmas? How do you think the Arcade pack will fair against the Wii this Christmas?
CL: The new Arcade pack is a great offering as it comes with five free Xbox Live Arcade games as well as the wireless controller. This product offers consumers a great entry level product and with more than 300 games in our portfolio we feel the Xbox 360 has something for everyone.
VideoGamer.com: Some gamers and analysts have questioned the long-term appeal of the Wii. What's your opinion on this? Is the Wii a fad?
CL: That is a question for consumers and will be measured over time!.
VideoGamer.com: Obviously Halo 3 has enjoyed bumper sales and as a result so has the Xbox 360. What do you think Sony makes of the Master Chief effect?
CL: We are really proud to have Master Chief and the Halo franchise as part of our portfolio and I am sure most companies would feel the same way - you should ask them.
VideoGamer.com: I was wondering if you could give us an update on the recent high-profile studio moves that affect Microsoft and the Xbox 360. As you know Activision has bought Bizarre and so it won't be developing any further PGR games - what can we expect from the franchise in the future? EA has bought BioWare and so future exclusive 360 Mass Effect titles are in doubt - what's the latest here? And Bungie has gone independent - will we see another Halo FPS on the 360? Some 360-owners have seen these recent moves as cause for concern regarding future first party games on the 360. Do you think the 360 has been harmed by these events?
CL: Microsoft Games Studios has always been focused on creating the most innovative gaming concepts, and acquisitions of top independent studios are part of the ebb and flow of the industry. We're proud of the leading role we've taken in helping developers realise their vision for interactive entertainment, and we will continue to enjoy long term-relationships with them as they evolve. We remain committed to fostering the best creative ideas and blockbuster entertainment experiences for all our platforms. We'll continue to have a relationship with BioWare on Mass Effect and we absolutely have a long term relationship with Bungie in place. We wish Bizarre nothing but the best and we will do the right things to ensure the PGR franchise continues to grow and prosper. The bottom line is we're committed to creating innovative gaming concepts, and we feel MGS has always been a great partner to the world's best developers.
VideoGamer.com: And finally... what game are you most excited by that's coming out this Christmas and why?
CL: I am probably most excited about Scene It? It's a really exciting interactive game which you can play with all your family and friends at Christmas, and the Big Button controller makes it quick and easy to answer the questions. It's a lot of fun and right in the sweet spot of broader family entertainment.
VideoGamer.com: Thank you very much for your time Chris.