"There’s a fundamental rule in the video game business: If you’re at a $100 price disadvantage on your base console price, you’re going to lose. It’s just economics. It’s not that hard to understand."
- One-time Xbox chief Robbie Bach shares a lesson learned from his time at Microsoft.
Former Xbox executive Robbie Bach has kept a relatively low profile since leaving the company in 2010, reportedly working primarily as a consultant and public speaker.
But in a new interview with Polygon to promote his book, Bach says he's hoping "to change the direction of our country" by putting the bureaucratic skills he learned in 22 years at Microsoft to work.
Developers may find some of the anecdotes he shares in the interview intriguing, especially his behind-the-scenes insight into the launch of the Kinect, Xbox 360 and original Xbox hardware.
"Sony was really smart," says Bach, recounting Microsoft's underwhelming E3 debut in 2001. "We were new to E3...Sony took the slot the night before and then had a massive party afterward. They kept all the journalists out to like two in the morning. We got stuck with the 8 a.m. slot the next morning. Most of the audience was hung over when they got there."
Bach also speaks about the culture of design and development within the Xbox division during his tenure, noting (in hindsight) that the company may have misstepped by devoting resources to researching handheld console design instead of smartphone design ("What we should have done was the Xphone, not the Xboy.")
However, the division's dream of creating an "Xboy" handheld game machine was never realized; Bach says "Xboy was indefinite" and enduringly appealing, but frustratingly impractical.
"There was this theory that [a handheld console] was all leveraged resources because the games would be the same...you and I both know that’s a lie. The games are not the same," says Bach. "We just looked at this as a management team and said, 'If we try to do this we'll hurt Xbox a lot....It was my first really hardcore lesson in saying less is more."
Bach goes into much greater depth about his lessons learned managing Xbox in the full interview, which you should read over on Polygon.