Early this morning Microsoft finally took the wraps off its long-anticipated, next-generation console, the Xbox One. Following the announcement, GameSpot AU chatted with Microsoft Australia’s marketing manager for console and software, Adam Pollington about all the local details.
GameSpot AU: Will Australia be part of the global launch planned for later this year?
Adam Pollington: The answer to that is that it's very much the goal to roll out to all markets. In terms of specific regional release dates, we’ve got nothing further to announce at this time, but stay tuned over the coming weeks.
GS AU: Kinect vocal controls were late to Australia, will the Xbox One include support for Australian voices at launch?
AP: Today’s announcement was really about the future of the platform and what we’re looking to deliver through Xbox One, rather than detailing specific regional announcements. The goal is very much to deliver the enhancements to the Kinect sensor in all markets where Xbox One will launch.
GS AU: Many of the services announced today (like fantasy football and ESPN integration) were very US-centric. Will you suplement them with offerings locals want, like fantasy AFL, or Foxtel on Demand on Xbox One?
AP: Local content is very important to us; [as far as] ABC iView, Foxtel on Demand [goes], we don’t have any specific announcements. HDMI-in is a key piece of functionality for the Xbox One console and we’re definitely looking to deliver things like live TV, whether that be over-the-air, pay TV, or internet TV through that HDMI input on Xbox One.
GS AU: The Forward Unto Dawn Halo series was available on YouTube, and Halo Waypoint, will the new Halo TV series be console exclusive, or are there plans for wider distribution?
AP: At this stage we’ve only confirmed availability on the Xbox One platform, whether that comes to other systems down the track, stay tuned.
GS AU: Does Microsoft want to be a partner and curator or a content creator in the entertainment space?
AP: All of the above. We’re definitely working with partners to deliver services and applications on the box, but at the same time we’ve recently opened Xbox Entertainment Studios where we’re actually creating our own content, the first piece of which is the Halo live-action TV series, which we’ll create and cast out through the Xbox One console as well. The intention is to deliver across all of those mediums.
GS AU: Microsoft has confirmed there will be no backwards compatibility with disc or Xbox Live Arcade titles on the Xbox One. Given the company's focus on cloud services, will we see any of these current-gen games come to the Xbox One?
AP: The Xbox One console is definitely designed for a new generation of games, so backwards compatibility with 360 titles is unavailable. Whether we choose to bring that to some form of digital distribution [service] is still to be confirmed. What I will say is that the Xbox 360 isn’t going anywhere. We have every intention to continue to support Xbox 360 as well as Xbox One for many, many years to come.
GS AU: How will you support the Xbox 360 once the One launches, and are there plans for split-generation games from Microsoft studios, such as offering Forza Motorsport 5 on both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One?
AP: With next-gen titles we’ve announced, Forza 5 and Quantum Break, at this stage we’ve only announced availability on the Xbox One console. But in terms of supporting the Xbox 360 platform, we do have a large number of new titles launching in the coming year, as well as new additions to the Xbox Live service, including applications and updates. There will continue to be fresh new content for Xbox 360 for a considerable amount of time into the future.
GS AU: What are the plans for day-one digital releases for all new games published on the Xbox One?
AP: The plan is very much to provide consumers the choice whether they want to digitally download the content for convenience, or whether they want to purchase it at retail--that’s not going away. The vast majority of our sales continue to be done at retail, and our partners are very valuable to the space. Regarding day-and-date, we haven’t announced anything about that at this time.
GS AU: The cost of new games has been a huge hurdle for Australian consumers, and has subsequently grown importing. Do you anticipate a local price hike for Xbox One software when the unit goes on sale?
AP: At this stage we’ve got no announcements around local pricing.
GS AU: There's plenty of confusion around what happens if players want to play an Xbox One game on a second console. Can you explain how the system activation will work, and what fees will be required if someone loans a game to a friend, or buys a second-hand copy.
AP: What we have confirmed is that pre-owned games will be playable on the Xbox One console. Regarding the specific mechanics around how that functions, we haven’t yet made any official statements. Essentially we’re saying we have enabled pre-owned games, with more information on how that works to follow.
GS AU: The Xbox One's interface was demonstrated using a mix of voice and hand gestures, will you offer standard controller navigation as an option, or ways for those with disabilities to play?
AP: The Kinect sensor is certainly an integral part of the Xbox One system. You’ve got multiple options: Kinect being one of them, a standard controller being another, and the third being SmartGlass functionality; enabling your smartphone or tablet to act as a controller for the unit. If anything, we’re going to continue to invest in SmartGlass functionality and we’ll see that grow. The consumer really has a choice how they interact with the box.
GS AU: Prior to the announcement there was plenty of discussion about multiple versions the Xbox One at launch, including a rumoured subsidised device with an Xbox Live subscription commitment, as you've done previously on the Xbox 360. Will there be multiple hardware configurations available at launch?
AP: We’ve made no announcements around [configuration] lineup at this stage, but it’s only a few weeks away until E3, so stay tuned.
GS AU: Adam Pollington, thanks for your time.