Q&A: Stephen McGill on Video Marketplace

Microsoft's UK head of gaming and entertainment talks about the rollout of Xbox Live Video Marketplace in the UK at the launch event in London.

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Xbox Live subscribers in the US have been enjoying the ability to download movies through the Video Marketplace service for over a year, and today the functionality launches in the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, and Canada. A launch event was held in London yesterday, and we took the opportunity to catch up with Stephen McGill, head of gaming & entertainment for Xbox UK, about his highlights of 2007, what Video Marketplace will offer in the UK, and why haulage companies are benefiting from the popularity of gaming.

GameSpot UK: 2007 has been quite a year. What are your highlights?

Stephen McGill: It's been a really good year for us. Obviously, we launched Halo 3--on my birthday, back in September, so that's why I was quite generous [McGill announced at the launch event in London that there would be free copies of the game for everyone who attended]. It's been a great, great year, and obviously Christmas isn't over yet, and there's still a few more weeks... People are out there manically trying to find parking spaces to buy their Christmas presents, and it sounds like Xboxes are on the list for a lot of people.

GSUK: Are you pleased with the fact that Xboxes, which as you say may be on many people's lists, are actually available in stores? Is that something you've worked hard towards?

SM: It is. We're struggling to meet the demand from every retailer every week. I think we've probably done it better than some of our cohorts out there, but it's a weekly thing--we're getting stock in, we're getting it straight out to the retailers who need it. Obviously we've got three different varieties: We've got the Arcade, the main 360, and the Elite. They're going to different types of customers, and different retail outlets.

It's a fun time, Christmas; part of the difficulty is actually finding enough vans to ship it all around, so a lot of planning goes into that.

GSUK: So someone's making some money from this?

SM: There are a lot of vans on the road, that's for sure.

GSUK: And how's the rollout of the Fall Update (which we seem to have to call it) going?

SM: [Laughs.] The Autumn update, almost the Christmas update! Yeah, it's gone really well, I think people have been pleasantly surprised by some of the new features and experiences that we're offering--obviously, things like Xbox Originals seems to have hit a really nice chord with people, and [the new friend network system] that's trying to create a more social dynamic for the more than eight million people around the world seems to have resonated really well. I think a lot of the enthusiasts have enjoyed the new video codecs that we offer.

I think for parents, offering the family timing and adding more family settings allows them to control the experience of what their children are seeing and playing; I think this is an important thing that I try and talk about as much as I can because not everyone knows about it and they should.

And then obviously we are getting ready for tomorrow [December 11], getting ready for the launch of the video store.

GSUK: How has the delay in downloadable content for Silver members been received?

SM: It's actually something we've been doing for around a year now. There have been some cases where we haven't, and that's been a conscious choice for some of the content, but on the whole there has generally been a delay between a Silver user and a Gold user getting content for some time. It's something we announced about a year ago; our intention was to ensure that we added the value to the Gold membership. I don't think it's seen as too much of a problem; obviously consumers are going to say "I want it all now, and I want it all free," but that's not necessarily the case, so I hope they understand why we are doing it, and I think it's still a great experience for people.

GSUK: Best feature of Xbox Live Marketplace? What's your highlight?

SM: On the Marketplace, I think the Arcade, for me, is generally something I quite enjoy. Seeing a few classics--I think there is such a buzz around next week's launch of Sensible [World of] Soccer, so looking forward to that--I'm personally not, I'm useless at football games. Football games and driving games aren't my cup of tea; I wish they were, I wish I were better at them. But I think the Arcade is particularly, with snack-size gaming, you know, some classic board games, puzzle games, some arcade stuff, and some brand-new IP.

GSUK: In terms of the movies, you mentioned there will be 40 titles by Christmas. For the rollout next year, will it be one movie at a time, or will it be big chunks? How do you see that happening?

SM: It's difficult to say--it probably won't be as organised as that. We're starting with 27 for tomorrow, and then over the next week or two, we'll be adding more and more stuff. Some of the team--they'll have Christmas Day off, but then they'll be back in the office ingesting more content for us. I think we'll have, obviously, things like Ocean's 13, and some more Harry Potter stuff, early in 2008. There's kind of a window between when you can go and see a movie, rent it on DVD, then it can go on video-on-demand, then when it goes onto satellite [TV], then when it goes onto normal free TV, and then when it comes back as back catalogue for anyone to use.

We've got an amazing partner with Warner Bros, and they've got a great back catalogue of stuff, of great movies ready for launch. We'll have more of that content from them coming on board and then we'll have more partnerships as time goes by.

GSUK: I was going to ask about that--you're planning more partnerships next year?

SM: Oh, you could... It would be safe to say that we're talking to a lot of people. Obviously Warner Bros. are the guys we're talking about today; we'll announce more stuff when we have more to announce.

GSUK: And what about television shows? Is that on the plan for next year?

SM: We're focused on movies right now. You know, for us, over here, we've got movies and music videos--in the States, they've got movies and TV. It's slightly different audience profiles, so we've got what's right for our audience--movie and music stuff at the moment--and we'll see where it takes us.

GSUK: Thank you for your time.

Discussion

32 comments
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vahid_xbox_360
vahid_xbox_360

Xbox Live is the best part of Xbox entertainment console. the online source of all electronic entertainment. a very successful plan that made Sony jealous to create stupid playstation network. after all Xbox live was great ,is phenomenal and will becomes better and better. thanks Microsoft.

Agermemnon
Agermemnon

@icarus212001 no xlive been going for ages it's the film download service that has started and @ Thorpe89 think it was 24 or 27 films available at the moment .

icarus212001
icarus212001

holy crap xbox live JUST came out over there? daaaaaaaaaaamn

devil_1994
devil_1994

nice xbox live keeps getting better and better i love 360

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

Is there really 27 movies? I thought it was a little less at the moment.

mcbride69
mcbride69

I payed for the HD Version of the matrix reloaded and its get shalf-way downloaded and then say "cant download the matrix downloaded" i have enough space for it!!! is anyone else having this sort of problem??? wot should i do!!

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

It's good we finally have the movie download service here in the UK but I was looking forward to the tv shows more. I was very disappointed when I had a look at what was available for download and there were no tv shows. I don't want crap tv shows like Coronation Street and The Bill either. Here's hoping something gets sorted in the near future.

vass86
vass86

i checked out some of the films and was very impressed with the prices and selection of films available

ColdKilla2
ColdKilla2

How much did MS pay to write this one?

hotdork70minus1
hotdork70minus1

ColdfireTrilogy - Like I said, you probably spend more money on fast food and that takes 10 minutes to eat. A month or more of new map fun is worth 10 bucks compared to McDonalds. It is the micro transaction era now and we have to deal with it. 2 of the new maps are far and away better then the halo 3 launch maps so they are worth it in my opinion. I see the frustration in paying for them but MS know's people will pay and that's that.

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

"I want it all now, and I want it all free" We can't have that i realize ..... oh wait .... i have been getting it all now and all free for the past 9 years of my PC gaming career... please tell me MS why we cant have 3 free maps for halo? Counterstrike seemed to give me about 3,000 for free (not exaggerating) and other games have had free actual content updates ... I don't see why the biggest money giant around cant take a little of that trillion dollars a year we are spending on you and actually giving us FREE STUFF with it ...

smcauley600
smcauley600

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ashuncc2
ashuncc2

E was talking about the service on Major's podcast. He stated that it is a test market for all the request MS has been getting. Hopefully, they will purchase enough content to keep the service running in the UK.

membernametaken
membernametaken

The best thing about the marketplace is that we never have to leave our houses to spend all our money!

hotdork70minus1
hotdork70minus1

deth420.......... What sounds dumb to me is burning movies that suck and saying it's better. If they suck then why do you need them on DVD ? Why would you need to watch a sucky movie more then once, let alone bother to burn them ??? ................ " Ha ha , eat that Hollywood, your movies blow but I get them anyway ... ha ha ha ! " Does Dr. Chaos/ Butters come to mind anyone ?

Agermemnon
Agermemnon

@deth420 one man's sugar is another man's salt reg your moan about the cost of films , and as for you doing illegal copys of films thats a little risky saying that on here as i wonder what some people do for a living they cant possibly work for the likes of F.A.C.T and co now can they ? lol

deth420
deth420

the time limit on movies is dumb, granted its the only way they can get more money. but hell i can go get a movie from the library or any other source, and make a copy of it and now i never have to pay again. so good luck with that MS. I know some will say its wrong or illegal(to copy movies), but i find that its wrong for movie studios to charge people $9-$15 for movies that arent that good, or just plain suck. and most movies today arent even original they just redo(regurgitate) the same old tired movies from yester year. so until they stop suckin im gonna keep on burning!

Smartiepants
Smartiepants

I'm really pleased we have finally got Video Marketplace. It's just like Sky Box Office, which has been a huge success, so there's no reason to suppose this won't be. In fact, it's slightly cheaper than 'buying' a movie for 24 hours from Sky. The only disadvantage is waiting for it to download, but that's hardly a big deal. You can select what you want in the morning, go off to work / college and when you come home it will be ready for you. I'd love to see some TV shows in the future as well.

hotdork70minus1
hotdork70minus1

I like the video marketplace because I can browse movies i've never heard of, or maybe forgot about. FIDO for example is destined to become a cult classic and I couldn't find it in any video store besides Xbox Live. I would rather rent a movie for a few bucks and IF it's really worth the buy then I won't mind that I spend a little more then I could have. There are very few movies these day's that worth watching more then once. We pay for all of this crap because that's all Hollywood is giving us and we don't know any better. At least you can get it for 3 bucks on Xbox if you're bored.

Darth_DuMas
Darth_DuMas

From a UK point of view, not sure the point in downloading movies to rent. You pay your 300 - 550 MS points or whatever, then you have it for 14 days or 24hrs after you press play. Plus they need to make it easier to get MS points. Instead of ordering boxed points that you have to wait for them to be delivered from online stores or using your credit card on the X360, why not use an iTunes type service or a service like online pay as you go top up (like for mobile phones or cell phones in the US) that allows you to use far more varieties of payments methods. Personaly I dont see downloadable movies taking off as these companies and distributers just want far too much control over them. The only time id find my self desperate enough to use this is on a public holiday when everything is closed anyway and I am really bored. Even then many of these you could own very cheap on DVD. So this would only be popular for the very latest movies I think.

hotdork70minus1
hotdork70minus1

PseudoFinrod - I am blind, my mom has to read gamespot to me. Gamespot is freezing out the blind.

LosDaddie
LosDaddie

Great interviews. XBLM is awesome.

PseudoFinrod
PseudoFinrod

Microsoft is freezing out deaf and hearing-impaired gamers by not having the option for subtitles/closed captions in its video marketplace. For that reason, I will never buy a video from it-with the possible exception of foreign movies like Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, which already have the subtitles built in... This whole era of on-demand video is all well and good, but those who profit from it need to bear in mind that 10% of the population in the US alone (according to the American Association of the Deaf) is either deaf or hearing impaired. They need to ask themselves if they really want to lose money because they were too lazy to add subtitles...

Mario2007
Mario2007

lol @ hotdork70minus1 so true!

hotdork70minus1
hotdork70minus1

I bet every one of you spends much more then 5 dollars a month on fast food to feed your couch sitter. If you can't pony up 5 bucks a month for an amazing service then you shouldn't own any console, let alone be feeding yourself garbage.

ElZilcho
ElZilcho

organised lol, i just want more anime bye!

gun_blade25
gun_blade25

The reason Canada can't get the same content as Americans is not because Microsoft doesn't want to give us the content but because of various CRTC regulations. Whatever, it isn't like I'll ever use this feature anyways.

GIJames248
GIJames248

They aren't adding value to the Gold Membership by delaying Silver content; they are removing value from the Silver. Way to go MS. Based off of this I doubt Live is going to be free anytime soon.

EnigmaticBeauty
EnigmaticBeauty

To be honest, I can't see why they can't have the same content as America has, after all... we like the same stuff and have similar cultures

TWOC2689
TWOC2689

It's a good list but when can we have TV shows like in America.

rhys_101
rhys_101

Woo cant wait for the video market place :)