This morning we managed to collar Neil Thomson, head of Xbox UK, to interrogate him on the next-gen console war, British gamers’ habits and the rumoured Xbox handheld.
Stuff: We’ve been trying out the Vista beta. Are there any good reasons for Xbox owners to upgrade to Vista when it launches?
Neil: Well, Vista’s the biggest product the company’s ever launched and obviously it’ll work nicely with the 360, and the Media Extender stuff should work particularly well. What I’m really excited about is Xbox Live Anywhere and games that’ll talk to each other whatever you’re playing on, be it a PC or an Xbox. The first game to support that is coming later this year.
What are the games you’re gagging for this year?
For me, Moto GP 06 this summer because I’m a racer fanatic. Towards Christmas, the new version of Pro Evo – a 360 exclusive – and Gears of War [a mindless first-person shooter which Stuff played and loved at the recent E3 games show]. I’m also really excited about [cutesy animal management game] Viva Pinata.
What’s going on with the Xbox Live Fusion (the webcam)?
It’ll be here before Christmas. So far we’ve demo-ed a cool poker game that puts your face in the game, but one of the things that’ll be really great will be seeing your opponents while you play them online.
What do you think of the Wii? Do you agree there’s a lack of fun, wacky 360 games?
I really like what Nintendo are doing with the Wii, especially as it should bring in new gamers. In terms of alternative games aimed at casual and non-gamers, I think, yes, you could say we didn’t do enough with the original Xbox. With the 360, I’d disagree: the Live Arcade and Viva Pinata really show what we’re doing in that direction.