Phil Harrison on Xbox One: core gaming, mass market entertainment and longevity

Friday, 24 May 2013 01:10 GMT By Naren Hooson

In the wake of the Xbox One reveal, many are seeking clarification on the direction the console is heading. Microsoft’s corporate vice president Phil Harrison discusses some of the choices made with the next-gen console

Courtesy of Computer and Videogames, Harrison talks about preowned games, the “always online” issue, balancing core gaming with entertainment and the longevity of the console.

On the issue of preowned games, Harrison suggests it doesn’t change from the current model. “I can come to your house with that disc, I can install it on your machine and we can play it and while I’m with you we can have all of the capabilities of that game. The moment I go home and notionally take that disc with me, you no longer have the ability to play that game. But the ‘bits’ are on your hard drive, so if you want to play that game you can buy it – you can go to the online store, buy it and it’s instantly unlocked and playable on your machine. All of the privileges I just described in my house would now apply in yours as well.”

In terms of the console needing to be “always online”, Harrison clarifies that this impacts only uniquely online game features and doesn’t see this as a big factor. “If your internet connection is interrupted because of a local outage, many, but not all, of the features of the game content you own you will be able to use, but not all because some of them are uniquely online experiences.”Blu-ray movies and other single-player games that don’t require an internet connection to Xbox Live will work. I think it is pretty rare of an outage of local internet connectivity to be more than a few seconds or minutes, so I don’t expect it will ever impact on somebody’s ability to use the system.”

Many feel that Microsoft are moving away from core gaming with this console but Harrison is certain a balance can be found. “Yes it is possible to find a balance but I don’t think it’s possible to do it within the constraints of a one hour presentation. I think what you saw today was very much the platform, vision and direction for all Xbox One entails, which is games, TV being made super intelligent and entertainment all co-existing inside one device with seamless switching between them, which is just amazing to see in action.”

“With Xbox One the ability to quickly move between applications will, we think, increase your curiosity and the amount of things you will play and experience – because it’s seamless, instant and simple,” he states, pointing at the enhanced all-in-one features of the next-gen console.

“The strategy of an all in one entertainment lead device was one of the motivating factors to get me to join this team. Because I really believe in the strategy and I really love the implementation in not just the hardware but the services, and the ambition of where it will go in years. So yeah, I feel really good about it and really proud to be in the team making it happen.”

He also believes the console will have an even longer lifespan than its predecessor. “Architectural decisions, the hardware design, the service design, connectivity to the cloud and the fact that that gives us even more future proofing… I think that will not only extend the generation in terms of time but it potentially significantly expands the reach of this generation in terms of the numbers of people who can feel that Xbox One is for them.”