Microsoft promises biggest year yet for Xbox 360

2011 was Microsoft's biggest year for the Xbox 360, and in a new interview, company executive Steve Beinner tells Gamasutra that "without a doubt," 2012 will be even bigger.
"2011 was our biggest year -- the biggest year in Xbox history. So we're feeling fantastic. We want to continue to build on that momentum," says Steve Beinner, Microsoft's director of global marketing first party games. "Without a doubt, I can tell you that 2012 can be a bigger year, and will be a bigger year, than 2011," he says. The Xbox 360 accounted for "nearly 40 percent of annual 2011 new physical retail sales across all categories," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier this past December. Beinner spoke to Gamasutra at Microsoft's Spring Showcase 2012 event in San Francisco, where the company showcased first party titles such as Halo 4, and third party titles such as EA/BioWare's Mass Effect 3. "We want to be the home of interactive entertainment," Beinner says. Microsoft wants to make sure it delivers "content you can play with your friends that's easy to access." While Beinner wouldn't be specific about how much longer the Xbox 360 will be a driving force for the company, he did say that there's "a lot of life left in the Xbox 360" and he teased that new IP for the platform will be revealed later in the year. "It's early in 2012 and we're just peeling the curtain back, but stay tuned," he says. He offered no comment on a potential price drop for the system. "We look forward to continuing to build on the momentum we have and continue the strategies we have," said Beinner. These strategies include continued support of its Kinect motion controller, which has an install base of 18 million units -- both as the primary controller for exclusive games, and in concert with controller-based games. The peripheral is something Microsoft is "committed to and very proud of," says Beinner. When it comes to marrying it with traditional controls, he says, "the opportunities for us are big in 2012." The company is also "committed" to improving the Xbox Live service, he says. "You see us doing things on the Live service to keep the development community engaged -- doing things to update the service, to continue to serve up new and unique content." He sees Xbox Live Arcade moving into a role where franchises can be extended, such as the recently-released Alan Wake: American Nightmare. "Giving them the right tools to continue to be innovative and creative, rather than saying, 'Hey these are the kinds of games we are looking for'," says Beinner, is how Microsoft views its relationship with developers. This strategy extends to Xbox Live Arcade, packaged games, and Kinect, he says. "There's no one specific kind of developer" the studio wants to work with, Beinner says. Microsoft Studios is "very committed to innovation on the box." Speaking of Microsoft Studios' overall strategy, he says, "We're very proud of our IP and we have some of the biggest IP in the industry." "It's all about quality; it's never been a game of quantity versus quality." "First party's role is to really be pioneers," he says -- to "really be a showcase for what the platform's capabilities are." "That's the way we look at it," he says: "showcases for what the platform's capable of." And he's not really worried about franchise fatigue for Halo, either, with this year's release of Halo 4, which follows the Anniversary edition of Halo 1 from last fall and Halo: Reach before that. "I really love the Xbox lineup that we're bringing," says Beinner. "I think gamers want great games." Gamers, he says, thus won't get tired of high quality content like Halo 4. "It's in the game -- it's a matter of delivering a blockbuster game, which the team is doing."

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