Robbie Bach, former Xbox Boss
Robbie Bach was the Microsoft President and Chief Xbox Officer for over ten years, overseeing the development and release of the original Xbox and the Xbox 360. Since departing Microsoft, Bach has gone on to write a book entitled "Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal."
Now that his book is out in the wild, Bach is doing interviews, which opens up the opportunity to pick his brain about the next generation of consoles. The recent interview with him on GeekWire was able to do just that. While the conversation had a wide range of topics, we are here to find out what he said about the next generation and the Xbox Two.
Straight From the Source: Bach's Thoughts on The Next Generation
According to the transcript of the interview, Bach departed Microsoft just after the launch of the Xbox 360. Despite this being long before the Xbox One was released Bach says in the interview that "they were just starting planning for Xbox One when I left."
In regards to the backlash on the Xbox One's original policies, Bach comments with brash honesty: "I think some of that was predictable and preventable. If I'm just honest I would say that." He went on to say that he thinks the Xbox One has moved past that and comments on how much larger the console market is compared to the past.
In regards to this subject, GeekWire responds by saying that Bach wouldn't have predicted a console market like the one we see today. In fact, he probably would have seen something come along to replace consoles, much in the way that smartphones have taken over handheld gaming systems.
Bach agreed with this, "In fact the year before PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched, everybody said the console market was dead, and they wondered why Sony and Microsoft was doing it."
Then comes the question of the hour: "Do you think there will be more consoles, another console generation beyond the PS4 and the Xbox One?"
Bach replies saying "I think there will be another generation. What the console looks like is a very interesting question." Both parties agree that the future system won't have physical media (i.e discs). Bach poses the question of what it will look like. He compares it to a balance between an Apple TV and a Xbox One in terms of functionality. He says "That next generation will be a whole new game."
Bach also commented on the rise of virtual reality. "I think the technology and the concept is wicked. I mean really powerful, and not just in gaming." He goes on to say that virtual reality isn't quite where it needs to be though because you have to quote "walk around looking like a complete goofball wearing this crazy thing on your head. By the way, they have problems with people getting sick using it.There's certain conditions where it's really tough. They have to figure out how to commercialize it."
He compares VR to touch screen technology to great effect. He reminds us that touch technology was around five or six years before the release of the first iPhone, but it needed an expensive screen and stylus. Apple was able to commercialize the technology by offering a less expensive, more simplistic version of the technology. Bach insists that this kind of commercialization is key to the success of virtual reality.
Robbie Bach presenting at an E3 event (image via Zimbio).
Digesting This New Information
It's always interesting to hear these kinds of things from someone who has such experience in the industry. As an outsider, his perspective is both accurate and unbiased. If it wasn't for the work that Robbie Bach and the team at Microsoft did all those years, then we would even be here today talking about the future of Xbox. Frankly, Xbox wouldn't even exist.
Bach makes an excellent point about the state of the console market. It's remarkable to think that this current generation was scorned for entering a market that everyone thought was dead. Consoles are most certainly not gone, but by the time Xbox 2 is coming out in 2020, we may have moved too far into the future for the market to still be viable.
Many experts, Bach included, are predicting a next generation console that does not use discs or physical media. We've discussed the idea of a cloud-based console and it seems like that possibility is quickly becoming a reality for Xbox 2.
Microsoft may have jumped the gun on their policies for Xbox One, but when it comes time for the Xbox 2, it's clear that the industry will be calling for a new approach. Drastic ideas will be welcome in 2020 because the new technology will demand it, as will gamers. It may sound scary now, but we need to prepare ourselves for a very different launch when Xbox 2 comes out.I also think that virtual reality, or augmented reality in the case of the HoloLens, will be commercialized by this time as Bach suggested.
What do you make of these comments? What are your predictions for Xbox 2? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!