NEWS - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Moore Reaches Out To Sony And Nintendo

Microsoft corporate VP Peter Moore has called on platform competitors Sony and Nintendo to follow the XNA model by providing an easy to use software development platform for their console hardware. Speaking at the ELSPA Games Summit in London, Moore issued what he described as "a plea to the industry to embrace not only this [XNA], but for our competitors to do the same thing as well." He described the XNA technology platform, which was originally announced at GDC earlier this year, as "a global software development platform - not just for Xbox, but for all Windows devices including smartphones or smart watches," and said that the new system was "all about making better games faster." The game development and publishing cycle will benefit greatly from the introduction of the XNA platform, Moore believes - arguing that the creation of a game at the moment is "80 per cent construction, 20 per cent creativity," and warning that the next generation could be worse, with the engineering effort encompassing up to or over 90 per cent of the development cycle. It’s vital to "push that needle back so that the great talent in our industry can focus on what really makes the difference - and that is making the game fun," he told the audience. "How can we make it more cost-efficient to get to the fun, and not have to spend all our money on the plumbing?" Promoting the line of thought which was strongly argued by XNA supreme J Allard at E3 last month, Moore said that "our job at Microsoft is to build platforms that let developers build applications to make money - we are, at heart, a tools company." This, he claims is a strong belief of Microsoft founder Bill Gates; "[Gates] believes in the ability of this [games] industry to provide innovation, but only if we provide the platform to make that innovation cost-effective," he told the summit. One key thrust of Moore’s argument was that using XNA - or, presumably, an XNA style system developed by Sony or Nintendo - publishers will be able to make informed judgements on whether to continue with projects much earlier in the development cycle. The system, he says, will give small developers the economies of scale more generally associated with larger companies; and will give large developers and publishers the ability to be more nimble, and to "make the tough decisions before you’ve invested too many dollars." Moore admitted that in the past six months alone, Microsoft has "probably kissed goodbye to $15 million in development funds" as a result of killing off projects in development; a bill which he hopes to reduce significantly thanks to the use of the XNA system. During the course of his speech, the former Sega of America boss also had comments to make on the topic of the industry’s increasing reliance on licensed intellectual property rather than self-generated franchises. "There’s always going to be a place for having movie licenses and sports licenses," he said, "but the sequelisation of entertainment is something that concerns me about this industry... We need to build IP and own IP in this industry, rather than pay the movie companies and the sports companies for the ability to live vicariously through their licenses." And like many of the speakers at the summit, he had words of praise for Sony’s EyeToy - highlighting the device, along with Microsoft’s own Xbox video chat system, as key examples of a company continuing to innovate during the lifecycle of a console.


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