Xbox architects share stories from the console’s early days and discuss the future of gaming

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Microsoft’s celebration of the Xbox Project’s 20th anniversary continued this week with the streaming debut of “Xbox Pioneers: Creativity and Innovation – Past, Present and Future,” a roundtable discussion among some of Xbox’s early architects, scheduled for November 9th. was recorded.

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Topics covered include anecdotes from the project’s inception, the insights that inspired some of the earliest decisions in Xbox history, and predictions about what’s coming next in the video game industry.

The discussion was hosted by retired Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aim, who was as surprised to be there as anyone. He chaired a panel consisting of Bonnie Ross, the current head of 343 Industries, a Microsoft subsidiary and the only panelist who still works at Microsoft; Ed Fries, a former Microsoft vice president who was one of the first Microsoft employees to sign on to the Xbox Project; Robbie Bach, who retired from Microsoft in 2010 after leading its entertainment division for 10 years; and Peter Moore, who was corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment division from 2003 to 2007, where he became famous among his fans. Hello 2 tattoo.


Since their time at Microsoft, Bach, Fries and Moore have all pursued new projects. Bach recently wrote a novel, a political thriller, named Wilkes Resurrection, Moore spent three years as the CEO of Liverpool Football Club before taking his current job at Unity Technologies; And Fries is the co-chairman of 1Up Ventures, a gaming-focused venture capital firm.

Read on for highlights of their 45-minute session.

  • On the first Xbox game: Ross’ first game launch for Xbox was the title fusion frenzy, which was also the first Xbox game to go through certification testing, and later the first full game for the Xbox library.
  • On Xbox Live: Bach highlighted the original version of Xbox Live, which premiered in November 2002, was one of the most creative decisions on the original platform. “When I think back to those early days,” Bach said, “Xbox Live … was super creative from a business standpoint. The idea that people would pay $49 a year to subscribe. Think about it That’s how many subscription services you had in 2002. Xbox was really trying to bring some innovation to the business model.”
  • More on Xbox Live: The original details of Xbox Live were previously a tough pitch, such as voice integration. Bach said, “I remember how crazy people thought us to be.” he credited the original Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon As a title that made people realize the value of Xbox Live service.
  • On Ethernet port: According to Fries, one of the key decisions for the Xbox was whether to put a modem or an Ethernet port, as Microsoft couldn’t afford to include both features in the final unit. That decision ultimately came down to Bach, who had forgotten he was about to build it, but opted for the Ethernet port because “it makes more sense to go with the future than with the past.”
  • On 56k modem: Bill Gates, reportedly, on decision not to include 56k modem in Xbox: “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
  • On branding: Moore’s impression is that Xbox products do not feature the Microsoft logo prominently, as they opted to brand them separately.
  • On Hello and Xbox Live: ross credit Hello 2, and the synergy of its developer Bungie, working with the Xbox team, to advance Xbox Live in its leading role on the Xbox platform.
  • On Sega and Xbox: In Moore’s previous job at Sega, America, he was the executive who called for the closure of Sega’s final console, the Dreamcast, in 2001. Since the Dreamcast’s operating system ran on Windows CE, Sega and Microsoft already had a strong working relationship. , and Sega was the first console maker to make the jump to online gaming. When the time came, Moore was able to nicely connect the dots between the Dreamcast and Xbox, especially when the first version of Xbox Live hit the market.
  • More on Sega and Xbox: In return I explained something I’ve always wondered about the original Xbox’s software lineup. Despite its declining popularity in Japan (it was reportedly Only 450,000 units sold in the Japanese market), the Xbox still somehow ended up as a clearinghouse for bizarre Japanese games, such as Breakdown, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball, And phantom dust, Between Ed Fries’ outreach and Moore’s ties to Sega and Japan, the Xbox played host to a number of exclusive titles that had previously found a home on the Dreamcast. “As the Dreamcast faded into the sunset,” Moore said, “the baton was shipped to Xbox.”
  • On Variety: “When you think about aura And the other games in our portfolio,” Ross said, “is about making sure you have a diverse world and a diverse set of characters.” It’s not so much about the Xbox anymore, to explain it. Because it’s “meeting players where they are,” and using Microsoft’s recent Studio acquisition as a way to do something for everyone.

“The sports business is arguably now or soon will be the largest media business in the world.”

  • More on Variety: “The sports business is arguably now or soon will be the largest media business in the world,” Fries said. “That’s how the word ‘gamer’ goes. We’re all gamers in a sense. Right now, looking at mobile games, more than half of mobile gamers are women. But who creates the content? Unfortunately, That’s only a small percentage of game makers, and that has yet to change. In order to create authentic content, it has to come from people who are like audiences, like Bonnie says.”
  • On user-generated content: Development technology has advanced to the point where, at least in theory, everyone in the gaming space can create their own content, if not their own game. Ross pointed out auraforge mode, Powerlever manufactured by the player of, and the entirety of Minecraft As spaces where users’ custom content is a big part of the overall experience.
  • More on creators: Moore, in his current position as Senior VP at Unity Technologies, was speaking on the same day the acquisition of unity Lord of the Rings Director Peter Jackson’s special effects company Weta Digital, “We believe there are already 2 billion manufacturers,” he said. Citing sports broadcasts as an example, “we also believe that the world is going to break down in real-time 3D.”
  • On the future of content: Bach predicted that in the future, the dividing line between the different entertainment industries – music, cinema, sports, television would be broken. “Music and video and TV real-time broadcasts, all of that is coming together. I think there are really good opportunities for different types of content that we don’t even know how to categorize.”
  • On AR vs. VR: “I think AR will be more practical” [than VR] Because it’s a blending of the world and a blending of entertainment,” said Ross, as Fils-Am discussed the topic of the Metaverse. “It brings everything together.”
  • More on AR vs. VR: Bach sees the VR/AR space divide, between efforts to transition away from clunky VR helmets to “glasses” and productivity improvements (ie training in VR) that move to the really heavy, specialized rigs where accuracy is critical.
  • On PC gaming: “I’ve been hearing for 30 years that PC gaming is dying,” Fries said. “No, it’s not dying. It’s growing.” There is room for both VR and AR in the market.
  • On future entertainment experiences: Moore and Unity are working on ways to disrupt the world of live entertainment (“the democratization of the entertainment experience”), using virtual and mixed reality to open up events to remote attendees. “It almost seems archaic that you’ve had to be lucky enough to win the lottery, buy a ticket, travel somewhere… and then stand back and watch the big screen because you can’t get close enough to the stage.”
  • On the Metaverse: Bach asked Fils-Aim about the social implications of the metaverse, where in virtual reality one’s life could be completely different. “This is where an AR-type experience tends to be better socially,” Fils-Aimé said, “because you’re not completely outside of a real-world experience. I’m concerned about an experience that will make you feel better about your life.” Take away from the family, the environment, all those things. My parenting instincts also work in terms of what I would like to see my kids do.”
  • More on the Metaverse: Fries had visited Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Washington DC, and recalled one of Roosevelt’s quotes: “Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally disastrous.” He said that if the metaverse is created, that should be taken into account. “They’re still about the people, and when you find people, you need to strike a balance between those two things.”
  • On ethics: “We have a responsibility as technology holders,” Ross said, to think about ethics and societal concerns as they build out the VR/AR space. “I think we’re going to see it playing out in front of us – what happens when we don’t. And I think this is our second chance.
  • On the Gates’ Interrupted Bridge game: When asked about his memories of his time with Xbox, Moore told a story about how, at one point, he approved of downtime for several NT servers running Microsoft’s casual games. Unfortunately for him, it involved the app that Gates regularly used to play bridge online with Warren Buffett, resulting in an awkward phone call from Gates to Moore.
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