TechRadar interview: Xbox UK boss, Stephen McGill

On the past, present and (a little bit about the) future of Xbox

Stephen McGill: Well it will be interesting to see what happens. I didn't go to E3 last year due to family commitments. The first E3 since it started that I haven't been and I kind of really missed it. So it will be great going back to having a bit more 'public showcasing' and the more people that get to go the better really. I think that's a good thing!

TechRadar: I noticed that the marketing for the new Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise this year has been a little different. Is that part of this 'broadening' strategy?

Stephen McGill: Well I think we realised that the first game was actually a very cool game for gamers, you know, as well as teenage girls! So we've taken that on board and we've also made it a lot more accessible for youngsters. It's a lovely title.

TechRadar: One thing that you are often accused of is of copying your console competitors – so with Viva Pinata people point towards games like Nintendo's Animal Crossing and with the new Xbox Live Experience people point towards Nintendo's Miis. What is your response to that type of criticism?

Stephen McGill: I think, well, we've been going down the journey since J.Allard first introduced what Xbox 360 stood for. Nintendo didn't invent character pics. You know, for us, we've had gamer pics there for you to personalise your console experience since day one. So you can customise the whole user look and feel. You can put your own photos on there. So – making it personal, having fun, being social, it's all about entertainment and great games. It is what we've always been about. It's never changed.

And what we are showing with things like the avatars – I don't see this as copying at all – we are very fixated on our own journey which we started to map out many years ago and continue to map out going forward. So we are very focused on what we think we should be doing with our products and our services and we will leave the competition to figure out their own strategies.

TechRadar: You mention J Allard there. The last we heard he was involved in Zune. What is the latest on Zune for UK consumers?

Stephen McGill: We don't have any announcements on that right now. J [Allard] has a big team looking at technologies across the business right now.

TechRadar: What about controllers? You are bringing out new types of game controllers – Lips being a good example – and there are those recurrent rumours of motion-control on Xbox 360. Plus, a number of third parties are developing their own motion-controlled tech that is compatible with Xbox 360. No plans internally for a motion-controlled device?

Stephen McGill: We've not announced anything and to be honest we are very focused right now on what we are doing for Christmas. You're right about the Lips controllers. I mean, wireless mics, why didn't anybody do that before?! But also, technology wise, we are just doing it really well, simple things like 'which mic is active' and having a light that indicates when it is your turn to sing. Really cool innovation in hardware. Which we do all the time. You can see our new gaming mice and keyboards here [indicates demo]. So making software and services better through hardware is something that we're pretty good at.

TechRadar: What of the 'Live Anywhere' strategy [originally launched by Bill Gates at E3 2006] – the idea of bringing PCs and Xbox 360s and mobile phone gaming together seamlessly?

Stephen McGill: Yeah, we're still working on it and we are seeing some bits come together. We've seen Live on PCs. Right now I'm very focused on the new Xbox Experience, but you are right and as we have more to talk about we will. We have lots more going on in the mobile space as you have seen here.