Ed Fries is an industry legend and is the main behind the original Xbox. He is one of those who made the Xbox a household name and cemented Microsoft’s place as a genuine competitor in the gaming industry. Ed now holds a number of elite positions at several companies. In a recent AMA [at Yabbly], Ed revealed some interesting information about the original Xbox team, his views on current games consoles and virtual reality headset.
When asked about his views on whether Microsoft and Sony have launched the new consoles too early, he stated that, “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. I think the problem is that making console games on these super powerful machines has become really time consuming and expensive. The teams are often in the hundreds and budgets are tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. Given how fickle the audience can be, that’s a big bet for any game publisher. Fortunately the new machines are opening up more than in the past to smaller independent developers and I hope they are able to fill the void with less expensive and more original content.”
He also believes that the market might have possibly reached its peak last generation. “Each generation of consoles has grown the market quite a bit, at least until now. So far this generation is off to a slower start. While this may not mean the end for consoles it is possible that the market reached its peak in the last generation.”
Sony announced their own VR solution last week at GDC. When asked whether Microsoft Research’s Fortaleaza and Illumiroom will compete, Ed stated that he was not sure what his ex-company is up to these days, however he heard a few rumors about some cool things.
“I’m not sure what Microsoft is up to these days. I hear rumors about all kinds of cool stuff but will it make it to market? 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.”
Consoles have come a long way. They not only play video games but act as a all in one multimedia device. Obviously not all of those extra features are appreciated by gamers and one such individual asked whether it was something that Microsoft considered for the original Xbox.
“It was, but we really tried to keep it all about the games. Most of the senior Xbox people at that time were gamers and we knew what was important to people like us.”
You can read the entire AMA here. I suggest going through it as it’s a fantastic read.