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Xbox 360 Doesn't Want To Be Hardcore 157

An anonymous reader writes "CNET.com.au has just posted an interview with Microsoft Game Studio head Shane Kim. The head games exec for the Xbox 360 admits he wants the console to be more family friendly (read: more like Nintendo and Sony). From the article: 'The positioning of the platform is very different now. We were so paranoid that people knew the Xbox was a hardcore gaming machine in the first generation that we really alienated, or closed off, a lot of our opportunity.'"
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Xbox 360 Doesn't Want To Be Hardcore

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  • Don't worry Microsoft - we never thought it was! (*snare roll**high hat*) Thank You! Thank you Slashdot! I'll be here all week.
    • This does seem to smack of reverse PR. I mean, what better way to try and create a reputation among those wanting to think of themselves as "hard-core gamers" than to spout on about how much trouble they're having getting their schweeeeet system accepted by the not-nearly-as-hardcore-as-you crowd?
  • Price? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HTTP Error 403 403.9 ( 628865 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:52PM (#15158254)
    The head games exec for the Xbox 360 admits he wants the console to be more family friendly.
    Lower the price. $299 - $399 for a console isn't family friendly.
    • by tgd ( 2822 )
      Why?

      Having a family doesn't mean not having disposable income and not having one doesn't automatically give you it.

       
      • Because having kids means you do your damndest to keep thier peanut-butter smeared fingers away from $400 pieces of entertainment equipment.

        Kids break $100 GCN, bad news.

        Kids break $400 XBX, stroke time.
    • I'd say that the cost of the actual hardware isn't that big a deal.
      Unless something really wierd happesn to the console-industry, the pricetag will soon drop.
      The pricetag on the games will not...

      If you buy a console for yourself, you'd be buying games that appeal to you.
      In my own case that would probably mean between zero and two games per year. (I'm picky. Most games are crap.)
      Even if you're a big-spender in games, you're only buying games for one person.

      In a family, the kids probably won't want the same g
  • No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mille Mots ( 865955 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:52PM (#15158255)
    My wife pointed out that the 360 was a poor choice for a 'family gaming system' as there were no games geared for kids of about six years old. As surprised as I was that she even knew what a 360 was, let alone what titles were available, she has a point. She actually suggested waiting for the PS3 release.

    --
    Now with a full .sig in every post!

    • The Playstation series doesn't exactly have a great history of providing games for young kids either. If you want a game system to appeal to the whole family if you have young children, the best bet would probably be the Nintendo Revolution.
      • Re:No kidding (Score:3, Informative)

        by Total_Wimp ( 564548 )
        The Playstation series doesn't exactly have a great history of providing games for young kids either. If you want a game system to appeal to the whole family if you have young children, the best bet would probably be the Nintendo Revolution.

        Why wait, how about the GameCube? Or the N64? Or a PacMan game-in-a-joystick?

        Seriously, 6-year-olds don't really care that much about the latest thing. They like video games, but if left to themselves I think it's about as likely they'd go for the PacMan as the revolu
        • "Seriously, 6-year-olds don't really care that much about the latest thing. They like video games, but if left to themselves I think it's about as likely they'd go for the PacMan as the revolution."

          3 Words for you: Revolution Download Service.

          You/he/she can play lots of classic games for a cheap price.
        • Have you put a 6 year old in front of Pac Man?

          They seen 3d and they don't want to go back. I have shown a 6 year old Pac Man, about 2 months ago. And all I heard was, "this is boring...can I jump? "
    • Re:No kidding (Score:3, Informative)

      by babbling ( 952366 )
      Is the PS2 that much better for kids than an Xbox? I imagine they both have some kids games, but the games are generally of poor quality.

      I'd say Nintendo is the way to go if you want games for kids. Mario games appeal to players of any age, and kids tend to love Mario games. Mario games also tend to be excellent games.
      • I don't know about the PS2, but I'm quite certain that there are no games for the Xbox that are rated "EC", which is what a six-year-old would play.
        • Not necessarily. EC is defined as being appropriate for 3 and older. E is defined as being appropriate for 6 and older. You definition of appropriate may vary, of course, but I suspect most EC games are made for toddlers. A bright 6 year old would probably get bored.

          As for what's made for what console, here's the roundup for the PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox. You can find these at http://www.esrb.org/index-js.jsp [esrb.org] where there's a rather nice search engine.

          PS2 EC: 1 game
          PS2 E: 567 games

          Xbox EC: 0 games
          Xbox E:
      • Re:No kidding (Score:4, Informative)

        by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:23PM (#15158542) Homepage Journal

        Katamari Damacy.

        Not to mention, if you're looking to go old skool, your PS2 will still play spyro.

        Plus... Jak and dexter. They may not be games for 6 year olds, but I don't remember anything in Jak II that a 3rd or 4th grader couldn't handle. Nothing that I hadn't seen in Battletoads or Ninja Gaiden or Bionic Commando. Well, except boobs, but they're clothed, and they're going to see worse than that on the 6 o'clock news.

        Oh, and that brings me to things like Tony Hawk (which is admittedly also available on the gamecube). THPS is kid friendly.

        So, yeah, there are good games for kids on playstation.
        • Um yeah, I don't think I want the little kids I know to listen to the lyrics on Tony Hawk.
        • "They may not be games for 6 year olds, but I don't remember anything in Jak II that a 3rd or 4th grader couldn't handle. Nothing that I hadn't seen in Battletoads or Ninja Gaiden or Bionic Commando. Well, except boobs, but they're clothed,"

          I'm pretty sure most people don't care about boobs in any way until after puberty. Considering that people are still breastfed as kids anyway, what's the big deal? Boobs are boobs. They're not going to fly planes into buildings, or shoot your mother.
        • Re:No kidding (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Fiver- ( 169605 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:24PM (#15159612)
          They may not be games for 6 year olds, but I don't remember anything in Jak II that a 3rd or 4th grader couldn't handle. Nothing that I hadn't seen in ... Bionic Commando


          Yeah, but did Jak have Hitler's head exploding at the end of the game?


          Best NES game evar.

        • Tony Hawk is kid friendly? Yeah, I like my kids playing games where when you fall or hit somethingm, you leave blood all over. Plus, the music isn't exactly for the little kids either.
          • Personally I think the Tony Hawk's games may be inappropriate for young kids for completely different reasons. How about trying to imitate some of those stunts? We all know that the "GTA leads to murder sprees" argument is bull, but unlike teenagers, 6 year olds may really not be able to figure out the implicit "don't try this at home" message.
        • THPS actually has the Europe equivilent of an american MA rating.

          I've always assumed it was a language issue.
        • Offtopic but what's wrong with boobs?
          I was brestfed so I saw a pair quite often when I was very young.
          I'd say it's the ones obsesed with hiding them that have a problem. It doesn't have to be a sexual reference all the time.
      • I'd say Nintendo is the way to go if you want games for kids. Mario games appeal to players of any age, and kids tend to love Mario games. Mario games also tend to be excellent games.

        Depending on the games you play, Nintendo systems may be better for the more casual gamer who doesn't want to spend hours and hours grinding away, or play FPS games, or any of the things that aren't fun about gaming. (Or, at least not fun to me.)

        What I want out of games is nice simple interface, the ability to pick it up every

      • I dunno, the GTA series seems to be a big hit with the kids.. ;-)
      • I am a Nintendo fangirl (see sig), and tend to enjoy more kidlike games - Mario, Zelda (though anything that's 360-degree 3d in these series turns me off), Animal Crossing, etc etc.

        I've actually been thinking that maybe after the PS3 comes out it'll be time for me to look at used PS2s... Between Kingdom Hearts 1&2, Katamari Damancy, and Guitar Hero, there's actually stuff that appeals to me that I can't get for Nintendo.

        That said, I'd certainly go for Nintendo first for kids, but a PS2 would be a go

      • What about all the Barbie games, and those two twins - my niece really loved those games. Surely they must have done something for the PS2 (they were on the PS1)
    • There's a lot of good games for young kids on the XBox Live Arcade; several of the puzzle games are pretty intuitive and that one where you control the fish eating other fish are pretty basic and easy to control. And you don't have to cough up $60 for each.
    • Re:No kidding (Score:3, Informative)

      by vertinox ( 846076 )
      She actually suggested waiting for the PS3 release.

      Why not get the Nintendo DS?

      Pretty much all the games are rated Teen or less and are pretty simple for any kid (or adult) to pickup and learn to play in less than 5 minutes.

      I'm having a blast with mine. Tetris DS is way too fun!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Whoa... what?

      Wife?

      Kid?

      XBox 360?

      And you claim that your a /.'er. I don't know if your a level 50 somethingorother, but to have obtained all three of these things is remarkable. Crowd, humble yourselves!
      • ...but to have obtained all three of these things is remarkable

        Then knowing that I have not one, but two wives will really blow your mind. Well, one is the EX model, but, it still counts right? ;)

        --
        Sig monde

    • Re:No kidding (Score:2, Informative)

      Several people have already pointed out that the Nintendo Revolution or the GameCube might be a better choice based on the games. I'm inclined to agree. Another reason that it's a better choice is based on the size of the controllers. The GameCube controllers are much smaller than the PS2 controllers and are a lot more intuitive to use. Also, the "A" button is the primary button for most games, so it's actually bigger than the rest of the buttons. This makes it a lot easier for younger kids to learn to
  • Wierd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kent Simon ( 760127 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:55PM (#15158275) Homepage
    I thought this was Nintendo's strategy. Microsoft pushing for HD, and debuting at 400 bucks, and a huge focus on graphics seems to me 3 very blatant pushes for trying to capture the "hardcore" area.
    • Re:Wierd (Score:2, Troll)

      You seem to be forgetting that we're living in the golden age of doublespeak. This is very much a situation of "listen to our words and pay no attention to our actions."
    • Re:Wierd (Score:3, Insightful)

      Actually I think their statregy isn't so much to capture the "hardcore" area, but the "media center" area. The 2 aren't mutually exclusive, of course, but I think what they're trying to do is aim for a level of ubiquity beyond what you'd expect from a game machine.
    • And it's not even the whole "hardcore" area. It's very specifically the case-modding, 500-dollar-video-card crowd (I like to call them "pseudo-hardcore"). A lot of console and arcade hardcore gamers could not care less about the 360 (I know I'm one). Of course, since MS is primarily a PC software company, this is pretty much the only market they won't just completely butcher (cf. Xbox in Japan).
      • Hardcore gaming? This whole story is just the first of a list of excuses for xbox 360's failure to live up to the M$=B$ sold out marketing campaign.

        All it means is, they will shortly launch a new marketing campaign to try a gain some significant sales and to fend off the idea that a lot of potential customers are waiting for the playstation 3 work & play console coming out for the Christmas sales period.

        They might not want to buy the Sony console but they certainly want to wait and compare the two b

    • Re:Wierd (Score:3, Interesting)

      by porcupine8 ( 816071 )
      Well, yes, that was exactly their strategy. Until Nintendo announced *their* strategy. Then suddenly MS decided that they want a cut of the un-gaming masses as well. Look for a string of crappy movie/Cartoon Network/Nickelodeon licensed platformers, coming to a 360 near you! "Family friendly" is code for "we know what animated characters your children can identify with more accuracy than their own grandparents."
  • by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:00PM (#15158318) Homepage
    Xbox was an interesting lesson in a lot of ways.

    It really did many things right; I think the controllers were the best from that generation, or at least after the "giant hands" oopsie got fixed.

    And it was a terifically powerful system, and I'm so glad that they're landbreaking moves into online multiplayer didn't stop them from giving full-hearted 4 player support...Sony dropped the ball on both of those, with ad hoc per-game network support, and only 2 controller ports w/o a multitap.

    On the other hand, even from the outset...the form factor was terrible. The sucker was a beast...one of the reasons why the GC is my "travel" system. The original controllers, though some people dig 'em, were also beastly, and didn't you need to buy a remote if you wanted to watch DVDs? That kind of sucked.

    Despite generally having somewhat superior ports of the mainstream games, Xbox relied on its "Killer App" Halo more than the other systems. I enoyed odd PC ports like Crimson Skies and oddball one offs like Fuzion Frenzy...
    • Are there any good games for 4-players for the 360 excluding the FPSs? Right now my list stops with Tiger Woods '06; I'm going to have to go back to the PS2 & GC for more co-op fun.
      • How about Call of Duty 2? ..doh!
        Perfect Dark? ...doh!

        The only thing I can think of are the upcoming X-Men and Justice League games.

        I really think that co-op games (especially 4 way) deserve a lot more attention than they get. Playing with other people in the same room, all at the same time, is more fun to me than playing online. It's a shame that only shooters get that treatment, because not everyone I know likes shooter games. What's worse to me is the apparent disregard for 4 player racing in recent games
      • Fuzion Frenzy ain't bad.
        Crimson Skies ain't a FPS, really.
        KungFu whatever isn't saying so much.
        Plus there have been some arcade retro packs.

        Alright, not that much in all. But I'm still glad it's 4 ports
    • "or at least after the "giant hands" oopsie got fixed."

      what are you talking about? i really dont understand why most people think the original controllers were too big... im 16 now (must have been 13 at least when the xbox was released) and i find the "huge" controllers are perfectly comfortable to use, they fit great into my hands, and I have no trouble reaching any buttons.... and never have

      What is with all the smaller-is-better rubbish concerning controllers, the 360 pads are really small and fiddl
      • Did you miss the part where I said "he original controllers, though some people dig 'em..." ???

        yes, some people found 'em great, but you gotta admit that there was a wide perception that they were oversized.
      • Maybe you just have freakishly gigantic hands? You're still in that growth spurt stage. Kidding...sort of :)

        The problem most people had with the original controller was that it fit into their hands too well and left little in terms of manouverability. I noticed the same thing with the Atari Jaguar, which was an otherwise good console at the time. As a result, I greatly preferred the PS2 controller. Most people ("most" being the operative term) like to be able to shift their hands and fingers around a b
  • ...When mostly the Xbox 360 is made for things like High Definition Television, and many of the games are heavily geared towards older people.
    Considering that Microsoft has generally made the XBox quite a bit about online play also furthers the distance from what's being said here.
    Most parents don't want their younger kids doing things online without their supervision or at all, due to much media attention, so trying to make online play the main attraction of it (and making it cost money to do so) would see
    • There are plenty of options that parents can set to affect their kids' online play. Everything from requiring that friend requests be approved by the parent or just blocked completely, to preventing online play or blocking voice communication.

  • by tddoog ( 900095 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:01PM (#15158331)
    Now that is a sweet title. Although, I thought they usually called that "marketing" :)
  • Really... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BenHoltz ( 909754 )
    If they are trying to be family friendly, they need to become more simple, put in the disk, and play. Seems to me like Microsoft is making yet another PR stunt to gain traction on the 360.
  • The discussion was regarding Microsoft's announced intentions to make the Xbox 360 a "mainstream" system, not for "hardcore" gamers at all.

    And yet - they have a $400 console, the games for the system so far are a lot of FPS games, then there's Condemned, and Dead or Alive 4 - all interesting games, but nothing that makes me want to sit down with my 4 year old son and 7 year old daughter and say "Hey, let's play some DOA4, kids! Watch Kasumi's bounce physics!"

    We have started up a game of "Kingdom Heart 2", which we can all enjoy, or Mario 64 DS, or my daughter really likes "Animal Crossing" and wants her own DS someday for "Nintendogs" (which she can only get if she keeps her grades up and does well in her chess club), and my non-gamer wife likes Tetris on the new DS.

    So far, I'd say that if Microsoft intends for the 360 to be a "non-hardcore" system, then so far they're doing a crappy job of it. Right now, it *defines* the hardcore console gamer.
    • There's a chess club for 7 year olds? Wow, I had to hit highschool before I saw anything like that. I had to go play with the old people at retirement homes, who were sore losers.
      • Actually, at the risk of bragging, there isn't - she's the only 7 year old, because she asked me if she could go when her school announced a club for the 5th graders and up. We've been playing since she was 5, so I let her go. So far, she's doing OK, but she really needs to work on her strategy rather than "impulse piece captures".
    • I'm sorry, sweety. Your grades are fine, but in this family, we expect our kids to at least make it into the third round of competition. Now, go write "The Sicilian Defense is not a playtoy" 500 times, and we can try again next quarter. :)

      Ever tried introducing the kids to old NES ROMs? Or would that be engaging in unabashed parental nostalgia?
    • And yet - they have a $400 console, the games for the system so far are a lot of FPS games, then there's Condemned, and Dead or Alive 4

      Eh? First off, Condemned == FPS. But that's not my point. Let's look at some games, shall we? Let's start with the current Recent Top Games [gamerankings.com] for 360 from GameRankings (this list may change, of course):

      • Oblivion - not an FPS, though it is from a first-person perspective.
      • GRAW - Third-person shooter. I don't much care for the Ghost Recon series, so I don't know if it'
      • Third person vs first person is a distinction that really only matters if you get motion sickness playing FPSs.

        "I'd consider non-hardcore to be more about targetting casual gamers rather than getting the 6-year-old crowd."
        I think a lot of casual gamers play with their families, which means the games need to be appropriate for 6-year-olds.
      • Oblivion by default is first person, but you can zoom out and have third person. I play this way because i hate FP POV...

        I deal with that all day long :)
      • In fact, I'd consider non-hardcore to be more about targetting casual gamers rather than getting the 6-year-old crowd. In that respect, the 360 is doing an awesome job with Xbox Live Arcade. Maybe the mainstream titles don't appeal to non-hardcore gamers...

        The XBox live arcade is great, and it does have a lot of games non-hardcore gamers would love, but without a mainstream title to convince them to buy the system in the first place, it won't matter what's on the live arcade.

        ...but your non-hardcore game

    • Nothing but FPS games eh?

      Non FPS 360 games:
      - Amped 3
      - Astropop
      - Bankshot Billiards
      - Bejeweled
      - Blazing Angels
      - Burnout Revenge
      - College Hoops 2k6
      - Condemned
      - Crystal Quest
      - DOA4
      - Fight Night 3
      - Feeding Frenzy
      - FIFA 06
      - Full Auto
      - Gauntlet
      - Geometry Wars
      - Hardwood Backgammon
      - Hardwood Hearts
      - Hardwood Spades
      - Hexic
      - Jewel Quest
      - Joust
      - Kameo
      - Tomb Raider
      - Madden 06
      - MLB 06
      - Marble Blast Ultra
      - Mutant Storm Reloaded
      - NBA 2k6
      - NBA Live 06
      - Need For Speed MW
      - Outpost Kaloki X
      - PGR3
      - Ridge Racer 6
      - Robotron: 208
    • "which she can only get if she keeps her grades up and does well in her chess club"

      School grades I can understand. But letting the decision on wether or not to buy her a DS based on how she does in chess is a little too much. Lighten up, its only a game.
  • If you take inflation into account, and look at some of the prices that children's toys are going for today (some dolls are close to $100 by themselves, some board games go near $50 [heroscape], the xbox 360 isn't really expensive. Of course, the revolution is going to be less expensive, and this will work better for some families. IIRC the SNES was $199 when it came out what, 10 years ago? An extra $99 is a drop in the bucket.
    • Um, yeah. The PS1/PS2 were both $299 (in the US) at launch. The N64/GC were $199 at US launch. This is of course due to the falling cost of computers/electronics. Taking these things into account, a 33% increase is most definitely "expensive".
    • On the other hand, if you take its price into account, it is very expensive indeed.
    • Inflation doesn't work for luxury items the same way it does for necessities. If it did, the SNES, N64, and GameCube wouldn't have all launched at the same price.

      It doesn't matter how many juice boxes or burritos consumers could buy with their video game money; if they have money to spend on a console, they're already full up on the necessities. The question is, how do they feel about the price of the product - does it inflict sticker shock? That's something that gradual inflation won't affect. Especial
  • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @02:53PM (#15159354)
    I major reason I got an Xbox 360 because I wanted to listen to MP3s and to look at photos on my television. A device to do this is about $200, or for $400 you get the same thing and a new console. The Xbox 360 interfaces seamlessly over the lan between my PC (once you configure it), and it was super easy. I can listen to music from my PC in my office, with a remote control on the stereo in the living room, which is convienient.

    I enjoyed playing games on my 8088 PC back in the day, so no matter what the difference between the next gen consoles are, they are gonna all have fun games to play. The question will be who offers the best secondary features. Xbox 360 is offering integration with your PC, and has Xbox Live Arcade (I enjoy the classic arcade games)... Sony is offering Blue-Ray, so audio/video buffs will be excited for that... It will all depend on secondary features to see who really is the winner, though.
    • I have to agree.
      Honestly, when I bought my 360 I wasn't too excited about it because of the launch titles (though I do enjoy a few of them) but I was blown away at the sheer amount of extra things that I didn't think I cared about.

      It's come to the point that Someone Who Isn't Me pirated a copy of Windows Media Centre just to get the streaming video to round out the features on his Furnace 360.

    • I major reason I got an Xbox 360 because I wanted to listen to MP3s and to look at photos on my television. A device to do this is about $200, or for $400 you get the same thing and a new console. The Xbox 360 interfaces seamlessly over the lan between my PC (once you configure it), and it was super easy. I can listen to music from my PC in my office, with a remote control on the stereo in the living room, which is convienient. Can't you do the same thing with a modded xbox?
    • I really don't see why people should buy a computer or console just for this kind of trivial functionality that could be wrapped into existing devices...

      All of this "media center" crap will probably eventually be included either
      1. as part of the tv
      2. (more likely) as part of the PVR device your cable company will be renting you

      If you think about it, its pretty stupid that right now you have to buy a 400-500 dollar device (computer or xbox360...or modded *original* xbox, although that's cheaper) to get acces
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:21PM (#15159581)
    Does anyone know what the hell Microsoft is trying to do in the console market?

    They are now the only company where you have to pay to play online. There entire online service as a revenue generating machine pretty much looks like a joke now that Sony and Nintendo are providing the same types of services for free.

    They rushed the 360 hardware out the door but clearly still haven't nailed down the manufacturing process with the massive defect problems people are having.

    They talked up the HD era but have no way of outputting 1080p.

    They talked up what a safe long term bet the 360 is but managed to include disc storage that is actually smaller than the first Xbox.

    They talked up the graphic power of the machine but those claims have become a joke.

    And they talk about expanding out of their old demographic and their library of games is almost exactly the same as the first Xbox.

    It's almost like they are actively trying to fuck up across the board in every area of console hardware and software. Every single thing they talk about looks to be the complete opposite in reality. Maybe E3 will turn things around.

    • "They are now the only company where you have to pay to play online. There entire online service as a revenue generating machine pretty much looks like a joke now that Sony and Nintendo are providing the same types of services for free."

      Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is great, but it's far behind Xbox Live in features.

      Sony online, I'll believe it when I see it (they promised the exact same thing for PS2, how did that turn out?) Sony doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt because of their history of hype

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