For all his visionary pursuits and grandiloquent gameplay promises, Peter Molyneux has a rather practical philosophy regarding the next-generation Xbox: He just wants it to play games, and play them well.
The creator of Black & White and the Fable franchise left his position as Microsoft Game Studios Europe’s Creative Director in 2012 to run 22Cans, the developer of Curiosity, and since then he’s been an avid follower of Microsoft‘s next-generation ambitions from the sidelines. With Microsoft set to unveil the next Xbox a la Sony on May 21, he decided to speak to Edge about his own vision for the platform.
Molyneux revealed that while he was privy to the next-generation Xbox’s early designs during his time at Microsoft, he isn’t aware of the company’s final plans. What he is aware of is the rapid evolution of connectivity in today’s Internet-driven world — and the temptation that exists for Microsoft to harness it with their upcoming hardware.
“I’m sure [Microsoft will] have put a lot of time and thought and rehearsal into that press briefing, but I’m going to be fascinated to see what the hardware is, and how it will fit into this new world that we’re in now – this new world of hyper-connectivity, of super-portability. Or whether they’ll double-down and say ‘you know what? We are the games console, and that’s what we define ourselves as’ and say [they] don’t really care about hyper-connectivity or hyper-portability. It’ll be fascinating which way they jump.”
For Molyneux, it would be fascinating and desirable if they jumped toward gaming.
“This is my personal feeling as a gamer. What I would do is double-down on what this console is for: it’s for playing games. It’s for playing console games for this massive, incredibly loyal audience of gamers out there. When they start to mix all this other stuff in there I’m kind of slightly like: ‘look, I don’t want another way of looking at Facebook’. You know, I’ve got all the ways of looking at Facebook. I don’t want another way of looking at Netflix. Just give me what I’ve paid my £299 for, and that is to play amazing, incredible computer games.”
Though his averting of Netflix may place him in the minority among gamers, Molyneux makes a valid argument. Microsoft’s milquetoast E3 appearance last year was due largely to the company touting Smart Glass over any groundbreaking exclusive game reveals. Nearly a year later, Smart Glass remains a non-factor for gameplay while the next-generation Xbox, at least until May 21, has dominated the spotlight for always-on Internet and Xbox TV rumors more so than its potential to redefine games.
Still, the current generation has seen both Microsoft and Sony demonstrate the console’s potential as a portal to everything entertainment — games, movies, TV, sports, music, social networking, and even live event coverage. There’s no going back now.
Do you share Perter Molyneux’s concern about next-generation consoles, particularly the next Xbox, diverting too much attention away from games?
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