Question Time: Microsoft

Question Time: Microsoft

Question Time: MicrosoftAs part of a mega three-part series, each of the big players in the console market – Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft – have agreed to let us speak to their head honchos, their proverbial Charles in charge, so we can get an idea of where each company is headed in the lead up to Christmas and beyond.

But here’s the (ever so slightly awesome) twist – we want you guys to be fielding the questions.

So here’s the deal: We’re looking for the most insightful, probing questions. Simply post them in the comments section, and we’ll round up the best questions and take them right up to the top of the chain and get the answers you want.

So we’re still waiting on Nintendo to send their answers back. In the meantime we thought we’d get started on Microsoft. Who knows, despite sending the Nintendo questions away almost a month ago, we may just get the Microsoft answers back first!


  • My question:
    How well has Kinect been received by the ‘hardcore’ gamer market, and what measures are in place to ensure that high-quality (AAA) titles are made that utilise Kinect as something other than a gimmick? Furthermore, what measures are in place to ensure that the Kinect games lineup isn’t flooded with ‘shovelware’?

    • I Second that. I’m very worried developers will take the easy option and spew out games made entirely of mini games. Please release something with depth and innovation and get the most out of Kinect.

    • MS-compliant answer:t they provide WMV (and ASF containers for WMV) which provides you with everything you need for audio and video. It’s good enough for Bluray / HD-DVD so it’s good enough for you too. If you want to use something else, then the whole system is written such that it’s easy to do so, but you have to write that support yourself.

      Non-MS answer: the 360 is a fully DLNA-compliant media player. Connect it up to your home network and install a media server that’s capable of transcoding your media to a format that the 360 can play, rendering in the subtitles etc. There’s heaps out there. Personally I use PS3 Media Server because I prefer using my PS3 for playback as it has wider codec support built in so my server has to do less work, but PS3 Media Server is quite capable of transcoding to 360-compatible formats too.

  • I’m interested in the ‘black boxes’ we keep getting to plug into our TV screens. Microsoft is only responsible for one of them, unless you could Windows-based media PCs. There seem to be so many being introduced (from TiVo through to FetchTV, GoogleTV, and our game consoles) that it would seem like people could have 10 or 15 of them alongside a TV all doing a very slightly different, but similar thing. Does MS see any future where we could have one, oh I don’t know, let’s call it a ‘computer’ next to the TV that can do all this stuff?

    • That already exists, it’s called an HTPC. It can play blu-rays, play video games, utilise an xbox 360 controller (If the video game supports it), it can browse the internet in full desktop quality internet, can support keyboard/mouse and remote control.

      About the only thing it can’t do is play Xbox 360 games from the disc, if MS built a 360 Emulator that could run on Windows by utilising the game discs, that would be awesome.

      • The 360 emulator is what I’m talking about.

        I’d also like something like Foxtel or Fetch TV (iiNet’s new pay tv service) that could be installed as software on that kind of machine, so even those services don’t need a new box. Just the HTPC and a modem/router to connect to the outside world.

        • That also exists. It’s called Foxtel Download.

          Unfortunately, what you’re asking for is really impossible, unless Microsoft buys out every current TV peripheral company on the market, but that will just never happen.

          Also, I’d like to know who you know that has 10-15 things plugged into their TV, most people I see have 5 tops! (3 of them usually consoles from different companies)

          • So I’m exaggerating a little with the 10-15.

            I did not know such a thing as this Foxtel download existed! But after a -very- cursory glance, is it, as the name suggests, a download service, or will it replace the Foxtel box entirely so you point a remote at the HTPC and can watch Foxtel just like anyone else?

            MS wouldn’t have to buy people out, people would simply have to write applications that could be installed on a PC (or Mac I suppose!) to access their services through broadband. Of course, that requires a certain level of broadband infrastructure, but this is future stuff I’m thinking of anyway. Apple, for example, doesn’t own the media companies who stream content via the web onto an iPhone… that’s kind of what I’m imagining.

  • What is Microsoft doing in 2011 and onwards to improve their Games for Windows brand and what sort of committment, if any, will we see in the development of PC games in the near future?

    • This. I’d love to see some sort of outline for the future of GFWL, as well as a response to some of the common complaints about it’s current incarnation in games.

  • Why do you (Microsoft) allow unrated games to be sold by indie developers to Australians on the Windows Phone marketplace, yet deny the same developers access to sell them to Australians on the XBox? The same requirement to get games rates applies to phone and XBox.

    • This is a question for the OFLC. Unrated indie games are available on Steam too, yet there are plenty of other games locked, unavailable in Australia (ie. Manhunt). Hopefully these inconsistencies will be resolved when the 18+ rating is introduced (discussion on Dec10).

      • No it’s a question for Microsoft. Steam allows it, MS even allow it on their phone platform, so why don’t they allow it for XBox?

        I’d understand completely if they said, “those are the rules we’re just abiding by them”, but they’re not. They are completely flying in the face of the law by allowing unclassified games to be sold on their Windows Phone marketplace, yet they disallow the same thing on XBox.

        All I want is a little consistency.

        …….and maybe for them to step up the lobbying for these laws to be changed.

  • OH, and why have you removed the option to cancel XBox live re-occurring charges via the Website? It’s only for US/German/Japan/Taiwan users now. Aussies have to call up!

  • Are there any plans to bring a play TV style device to Xbox?

    With Sony’s recently announcing a raft of first party games, is Microsoft going to increase development of exclusive titles? As a followup, are you concerned that Epic may take the Bioware route and release Gears of War on Playstation?

    Can you tell us more about Project Draco, Steel Battalion and Codename: Kindoms?

  • With multiplatform games still prominent in the market, how does Xbox hope to keep up and dominate releases?

    Is this something that is left to the developers, or are special releases, cheaper downloadable content, more content, etc going to become an increasing factor?

    Recently Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage had the Xbox version lose favour in Japan due to it’s longer load times, etc. Might this have been averted by pumping its release with more content?

    So far it seems that most releases on multiple formats are similar. Are releases going to come down to performance or demographics to dominate?

    Are multi platform releases even a major concern?

  • When (if at all) will Indie Games be coming to Australia? Apparently it’s something to do with classifications and such, but come on guys, really? You’re going to let THAT crap stop us playing some true gems?

      • As a console and games manufacturer, who also has a vested interest in the development of online software… why has your company been so quiet on the classification system in Australia?

        With an install base of over one million xbox’s nationally, and some of the best parental controls in the home console market, do you not wish to see reform in this area?

        Given how many games are not submitted for review in Australia (Blacklight: Tango Down), have Microsoft calculated how much potential revenue has been lost to Australian classification?

  • High latency is major problem for Australian players. If an action game doesn’t support the option of limiting match-making to local* players only it’s essentially broken. I would rate it as being on the same level as a game running at 5fps, technically playable but totally impractical.

    Does Microsoft have any plans to introduce quality control standards in this area? It’s pretty ridiculous that I pay full price for the game AND my XBOX Live Gold subscription fees only to find out that my game is essentially broken.

    *Anything inside Australia.

    • ^^ This is my question. We’re paying for a service, the xbox should have a local\region search built in.

      Global matchmaking just doesn’t work.

      If the game does not have this feature it is us Australians that miss out. Modern Warfare 2 was great example of a broken matchmaking due to not having a region type search.

    • Exactly. Would it be possible to standardize the requirements of multiplayer matchmaking, especially based on region, it’s not fair to be thrown into foreign and extremely laggy matches. Then having to quit, search, quit, search until you stumble upon an Australian host. Also bring back searchable player matches. Link achievements and progress into ranked but allow me to find a social game just to have fun in. Made most of my friends on XBL by joining player matches in GoW1 where you could search by connection

  • As of this writing one Australian dollar will buy me at least 95 US Cents.

    1 US Dollar currently buys 80 MSP so therefore it follows that 1 Australian Dollar should be able to buy 76 MSP, instead 1 Aus Dollar only buys 63 MSP.

    When will Microsoft be re-evaulating the cost of Microsoft Points to Australian Consumers?

    • Need to talk to Xbox Australia, not Microsoft. Also falls into the same reason why Games on Demand are less than half the price in America.

      • Xbox Australia is a division of Microsoft Australia (Entertainment & Devices). So talking to Microsoft Australia should be exactly the same as talking to Xbox Australia, especially given that this is all about the gaming side of things.

        It’s more of a sales question than anything but it’s one that should be asked regardless.

        However in the mean time, consider that we pay 10% GST on those points. There’s also the fact that games have to be submitted for classification in Australia which costs upwards of $1000. At $10 a pop, an XBLA game needs to sell 100 units in Australia just to recoup that, and that’s with the assumption that the $10 is all profit (it’s not – GST comes off, administrative costs, fees, other taxes, hosting costs, bandwidth… nothing is for free). This isn’t an excuse, but comparing the US MSP price directly against the AU price isn’t an entirely fair comparison and we’re not getting quite as raw a deal as it looks.

  • Just want to ask if PC games are still on the agenda for Microsoft? If there is continued support as shown with Games for Windows Live why are titles such as Gears of War 2 / Halo Reach not released on the PC?
    What is the future on PC Gaming in the eyes of Microsoft? Please don’t give me jibberish about Piracy because everyone knows X360 games are just as easy to pirate these days.

  • A quick browse amongst popular PC gamer forums suggests the Games For Windows Live PC platform is generally disliked in its current incarnation. Is Microsoft aware of the criticisms and are they ever planning on seriously competing against say the Steamworks solution which is consistently growing more popular?

    • While 64-bit Windows might seem better, the compatibility issues would make it an absolutely horrendous transition to 64-bit only. Keep the option for 32-bit.

      • That a good point…if it were true. No issues here. We’ve moved from 16bit to 32bit in the past. Some people and their legacy programs will be left behind but that should stop dropping 32bit which is holding us all back.

  • Do you think Microsoft has limited themselves to only certain types of motion games with the controller free Kinect?

    I like the accuracy of using a motion controller for aiming and shooting in some action games but at the moment that’s not really possible on the Kinect but it is on competitor’s consoles.

  • How, with the expanding size of games is MS hoping to combat the storage issue if it wants to extend the life of it’s console? Are we going to see more multidisc games or are installs for future games likely to be mandatory? We’re at a point now where games sound (lossless audio), video (ff13 full motion video on 360 vs ps3) and imagery is being compromised as well as potential level design (I’D quoted the 360 as potentially compromising their design of RAGE due to storage capacity on disc. So, to sum it up, the DVD is at the end of it’s life in terms of storage, 9gb does not cut it now that USBs, cards and blurays exceed this alone… What will MS do to avoid this problem? (no offense but an actual answer instead of hyperbole like Sony gave would be highly appreciated and respected.)

  • When is Microsoft going to allow Xbox accounts to transfer from country to country?

    As my account was originally setup when I was in New Zealand, but now as an immigrant to Australia I don’t have the ability to set it as an Australian account.

    This limits me from using an AU credit card, which in turn stops me from buying as many XBLA or DLC titles. Of course I am fortunate enough that points cards are identical between NZ and AU, but what happens if I choose to move to another country as well.

  • What is microsofts opinions on the hacking of the kinect sensors? and what do they think is the best things coming out of these hacks? (that is of course, if they approve of the hacks)

  • Question:

    Why did Microsoft push the HD DVD so hard, yet never had the HD DVD player as a built in thing for the 360, or even bundle the external player with any of the 360 editions?

    Note: I do not own a 360, but I find it interesting how Microsoft never made had any sort of deals to make people think ‘I mite get that’actually go out and get one.

  • Given the stetements from Microsoft in the past about renewing the commitment to PC games, would there be any possibility of xbox exclusivity for games becoming CONSOLE exclusivity rather than UNIVERSAL exclusivity?

    By all means use console exclusivity to get ahead of sony but what sense is there in fighting against your own operating system when you could make money from both markets? Piracy is bad enough on both fronts to be a serious cause for concern but there’s no reason to remove choice from your legitimate customers because of the actions of a minority

  • Hey Mark… Potential HUGE story in this one if anything like it was true…

    In all seriousness, please have a read over this thread at NeoGAF, the opening post pretty much covers it all…

    The problem though would be that being in AU and no price hike came through for us, they wouldn’t comment on it.

    I know people get be quoted out of context, but alot of this fits too well together and I’m starting to believe it!

    Anyone else have thoughts on it?

  • We have a lot of talented people here who have little support, funding and all-round opportunity: does Microsoft have any plans to better encourage or invest in the local game/software development community? If so, are we likely to see anything substantial in the next couple of years?

    Is there an underlying reason the functionality of Xbox Live account management differs from region to region? If not, is there a chance we can see a more simple and unified system? For example, automatic renewal cancellation is only available over the phone, while some regions can simply click a couple of buttons online.

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