Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Peter Moore

Peter Moore at EA sports gave a lengthy the interview to Keith Stuart of The Guardian games blog. It's been published in five parts, with the first part here.

This interview is being described as "candid," but I seriously doubt that. Peter Moore is very, very skilled at manipulating the media when it suits his purpose. He appears very candid at times, and the further into the past, the more candid he seems, but here's what he had to say about the infamous hardware issues with the 360:
...a year and a half ago we had a very difficult time with Xbox 360, with the hardware issues, and there are things that I've said that have been immortalized, and you try to say, well that's not what I meant… Infamously, a guy called Mike Antonucci of the San Jose Mercury news interviewed me and was really pushing hard, and of course when you're dealing with something as sensitive as defective hardware, you've got to be very careful what you say, not only about messaging but it's about legal issues. If you say things out of line on behalf of a company, you're exposing the company to lawsuits, people will take what you say and use it in a court of law - and Microsoft knows that very well.

But I was focused at that time on trying to get customer service up and running to take care of some hardware problems, and I said, 'You know, things break', and then I was called Marie Antoinette – let them eat cake. But the context I was using wasn't flippant, the sentence was, 'things break, but our job is to go fix it for you'. So what I said was twisted to that it looked like I didn't care.

Let me try to put this into context. Dean Takahashi clearly established in his recent article that Microsoft launched the 360 knowing that the hardware was faulty and that return rates would be extremely high. Yet all Peter Moore mentions is that he was taken out of context to make it look like he didn't care. This is one of the guys, if not THE guy, who approved shipping a known defective product, but he's not going to say anything about his responsibility.

"Candid," indeed.

He does have something interesting to say about the future in terms of delivery methods:
The one thing that will change is whether it's going to be a physical packaged goods model, or whether it's going to be direct to consumer download. There will be a time when we don't ship it on a physical disc, it's not far away, in fact we're already doing it in Asia, and we might give you the core game for free, but then you start buying downloads, micro-transactions, we'll sponsor some stuff, and start shifting the business model away from 'I need to get your £49 and then say goodbye to you when you walk out of Game', I want to talk to you everyday, I want to give you things everyday that keep you in contact with me, I want a relationship with you as a consumer 365 days a year.

...So in the future hard drives are going to be bigger, broadband is going to be faster and we're going to look back and laugh at the fact that we used to drive to the store to buy a piece of plastic with data on it. That business model isn't going to exist – I don't know whether it's going to be five years from now or ten years, but it's not going to be around anymore. And then we can *uck Gamestop in the ass.

Um, I added that last sentence.

Clearly, though, that's the point. I still wonder how entirely digital distribution for gaming machine will ever actually work. Consoles aren't going to come with 300GB hard drives any time soon--Moore himself was bitching about the costs of the 20GB hard drive in the original Xbox! And even with 300GB, plenty of people would just run out of space. What about the guy who buys 100+ games for a single console? Also, what happens when a console needs to go in for repair and a hard drive is replaced? Where are all the licenses for all of those games, and how do they get downloaded?

Digital distribution sounds simple, and inside a PC framework, it is relatively simple. Inside a console framework, though, it's going to be much more difficult.

One last note. Here's the other interesting take away from this interview. Do you know how many times he uses the word "quality?"

Not once.

Do you know how many times he uses the word "brand?"

Nineteen times.

That, to me, is far more illuminating in terms of his priorities than any answer to a single question he could ever give.

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