A portion of a EWeek interview with Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division…
E: So, is Nintendo disrupting things for you, or were you surprised to see them?
RB: I’m actually not—the product has gotten more broad-base acclaim that I would have expected. It’s a very nice product, but it actually has a relatively specific audience and a fairly specific appeal, frankly, based on one feature, which is the controller itself. And the rest of the product is actually not a great product—no disrespect, but … the video graphics on it aren’t very strong; the box itself is kind of underpowered; it doesn’t play DVDs; there are a lot of down-line components [that] aren’t actually that interesting.
In the casual space they’re going to do very well, because the controller is pretty intuitive and the game experience is pretty simple, and Nintendo can produce a lot of those simple game experiences themselves.
The challenge they have is that third parties aren’t going to make much money on this platform because Nintendo is going to make all that money, and their ability to compete with something like a Halo or produce an experience like Madden on their system is going to be tough. They don’t have the graphics horsepower that even Xbox 1 had. So it makes sort of the comparison set a little bit difficult.
So the challenge for us is how do we drive to more casual users, and how do we bring more casual experiences to Xbox and Windows? And the challenge for them is figuring out, “Hey, how do I broaden beyond a casual demographic?” We’ll see how that plays out.
It’s interesting to note that a year ago if somebody had said, “Hey, we won’t be discussing Sony,” that’s an interesting statement, and I think something that frankly hasn’t been written about very much.
E: So, do you feel that Nintendo is a more fierce competitor than Sony?
I think Nintendo and Microsoft are clearly in the driver’s seat on what’s happening in this generation. And they’re different driver’s seats. In a way, … our circle and Sony’s circle overlap I would say 90 percent. Nintendo’s circle and Microsoft’s overlap say 20, 25, 30 percent, something like that. We had people laughing and call it the Wii 360 because you already see a lot of dual-household ownership.
But Sony I think has some real challenges. They’ve got a pricing problem, they have a cost problem, they have a content problem, and they don’t have an online service. But I’m just talking about the psychology of me doing an interview with you as a reporter coming in and not uttering the word Sony without me bringing it up.