Ed Fries, co-founder of the Xbox project and former Microsoft VP, left the company more than 10 years ago to pursue other interests, but last week he re-entered the world of console gaming to discuss the new generation. In an “Ask me Anything” on Yabbly, Fries answered a wide variety of questions concerning the game industry, from his thoughts on Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR to what he would have done differently if he could relaunch the original Xbox.
“Probably the easiest answer is the controller,” said Fries, in response to a question about launch regrets. “A lot of people hated the big controller we shipped with the first version.”
As with any new console generation, game releases are few and far between for the first several months, but consumers are fidgety nevertheless. One user asked Fries whether or not he thought the consoles might have launched too early:
“It’s been a long wait for this new generation of consoles, the longest in history, so no, I don’t think they shipped too early,” answered Fries. “I think the problem is that making console games on these super powerful machines has become really time consuming and expensive.”
The biggest story of the PS4 and Xbox One launches so far has been the surprisingly dominate performance of Sony’s console. Although the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 ended the last generation neck and neck, Microsoft had taken hold of a significant portion of the U.S. market. Nearly six months into this cycle, Sony has reclaimed the throne.
Fries acknowledges that Microsoft made some missteps early, and though he doesn’t get into specifics, the disastrous PR campaign is a likely suspect. According to Fries, the road to success “depends on which team executes the best both on delivering great games and on improving the user experience through better system software on the console.”
There’s plenty more worth reading, but Fries’ responses to two questions regarding the Oculus Rift and virtual reality in general deserve a mention:
“After watching 3D TV fail so spectacularly the last few years, I’m a bit of a skeptic about VR, at least for the broad consumer market, but for hardcore gamers, who knows? Maybe it will work and bring some amazing new experiences.”
Check out the full AmA on Yabbly.