Every now and then when I was at the San Jose Mercury News, a story or blog item that I'd written would take off, getting far-flung attention and showing up all over the Web in all sorts of new contexts.
One such item: A 2007 interview with then-Microsoft video-game executive Peter Moore. It was posted in a series of chunks on the blog I co-wrote with Dean Takahashi, now at VentureBeat. A variety of subjects were discussed, including the Xbox 360's hardware problems. Some of Moore's phrasing -- most notably two words: "things break'' -- generated intense reaction.
Late last year, Moore (now with Electronic Arts) used another interview to reflect on that conversation with me, but his remarks seemed to me to be at odds with something that could be easily checked: the original material I posted on the Dean & Nooch blog and still internationally perusable. But the new Moore interview began to be cited widely without any reference to how it did or didn't jibe with his previous quotes.
I thought that was ominous. The mainstream media certainly has been its own worst enemy for many years, but Web journalism, well, yikes, it teeters between lame and horrifying. I couldn't get anyone interested in providing some perspective except for editor Patrick Garratt at Videogaming247.com . I remain extremely grateful to him. But what about all the other folks who seemed to have no interest in any context that might be, gee, overwhelmingly relevant to Moore's new quotes? Oh, and did it matter that my name was being raised without any input from me? Apparently not.
I was well gone from the Mercury News when all this percolated, and I was without any good platform for addressing the issues directly. I've got this blog now, and it's way too young to have the kind of readership that would level the playing field. Maybe some day. But for starters, let me revisit everything by repeating below what Videogaming247.com posted -- thanks again Patrick -- and getting it all on the record in yet another place:
Moore was not "pushed hard" on 360 failure issues, says Antonucci: full interview transcript
Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Mike Antonucci, the San Jose Mercury News journalist named by Peter Moore in his recent Guardian interview as “really pushing hard” on the issue of Xbox 360 failure rates, has contacted VG247 to set the record straight on the subject.
Antonucci, who’s now moved on from the paper, conducted the interview in which Moore famously said that “things break” in relation to the RROD problem.
Antonucci told us this morning that both he and Dean Takahashi - author of The Xbox 360 Uncloaked - had mailed the Guardian to show that Moore hadn’t been “pushed” in the interview, or that Antonucci had taken his remark out of context, saying that, “Perhaps the loss of context is a reference to other reporting that quoted my interview with him.”
The note went ignored, apparently. You can read the full mail sent to the Guardian after the break, which includes a full transcript of the interview in question. We’ve bolded the section containing the quote.
Dear Mr. Stuart [Keith Stuart, the journalist that conducted the Guardian's Moore interview - Ed],
Happened across the Peter Moore interview in which he mentions me. I’m the former San Jose Mercury News reporter he referred to.
For the record: I’m not “called” Mike Antonucci — that’s my name. :-)
I left the Merc a couple of months ago (in case anyone wants that context).
Moore was not “pushed hard” by me (the question put to him was from a reader/consumer and I relayed it), nor was he taken out of context by me. Perhaps the loss of context is a reference to other reporting that quoted my interview with him.
All of this is easy to track. He’s referring to one part of a multi-part interview with him and here’s the full version (as it’s still easy to find on the Web).
I would appreciate you posting this (or summarizing it) out of fairness. Moore was given enormous room to comment as he wished and is totally responsible for his own remarks.
I’m cc’ing Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat, who shared a blog with me and takes a key interest in Xbox failure issues.
Peter Moore interview, part three (answers to readers’ questions)
Posted by Mike Antonucci on May 7th, 2007 at 5:24 pm Categorized as General, Mike Antonucci, Nooch on Gaming
OK, here we go with the last portion of my roughly half-hour interview with Microsoft’s Moore on April 19.
There’s an occasional contribution from me (flowing naturally from the conversation), but this is mostly Moore responding to questions that readers hoped I could squeeze in.
The first question was about Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, and, only by coincidence, Microsoft had made an announcement on that subject a few hours before the interview. So I put the released info on this blog the following day (April 20), and therefore I’ll skip the question here and just attach the info for your convenience.
In a day or so, I’ll also combine all three parts of this into one for-the-record post (although I generally try to stay away from posts of such length).
Q (from reader): Gosh darn, all this talk about the portfolio, but all I see on Arcade are more shooters, and every other game announced for the system seems to be a shooter. Whatcha gonna do about that? I feel like I need to purchase a Wii just for some variety. I loved “Viva Pinata” but there’s gotta be more than just shooters and racers right?
A: So, they should have gone out like 290,000 people did in the first five days and bought “Guitar Hero II,” which is my latest addiction, ’cause i love it. And an old guy like me picking up a guitar and playing, if I can do it, anybody can do it. And then they should start looking at all of the movie games that are coming out. I just looked at all of our blockbusters for movie games — “Ratatouille” and all the stuff that’s coming out this summer. They should go to Xbox.com and take maybe a little bit more of a deeper look at all of the games that are coming out.
Q (from reader): Has Microsoft given any thought of producing a CG animated “HALO” series? The CG footage at the end of the “Gears of War” game was awesome. If Halo produced something of this standard (or the even the CG effects from the Halo Wars RTS game footage) and maybe started out by following the scripts from the Halo novels, it would be a big winner for all (Microsoft, “Halo” fans and animated fans in general).
A: So, CG isn’t cheap, and if read into that, you’re almost saying, “Let’s get the ‘Halo’ movie back on track again.”
Q (Antonucci): Well, “Star Wars” fans, for instance, get all that “Star Wars” animation. So I think he’s just hoping that “Halo” will have the kind of animated outlets that . . .
A: And I would love to talk about “Halo 3,” but I can’t talk about “Halo 3.”
Q (Antonucci): But that’s not animation (in the context of the question).
A: No, it’s not animation, but there’s enough stuff in there, in the stuff that I’ve seen, that’s going to get people excited. And y’know. I’ll back down a little on getting into detail on this because we’ve got some stuff (but) I just don’t want to give the game away.
The next question was about the Xbox Live Diamond Card program, but there was some confusion about what the reader meant, so we mostly put it aside. Some e-mail exchanges with the reader followed and I’ll eventually deal with those in a separate post.
Q (from reader):With the success of the Wii Controller and the encouraging words from developers about the (Sony) Sixaxis does Microsoft plan on, or have the ability to, adding a motion sensitive controller to their system?
A: We certainly have the ability. Whether we believe it’s something that we need to do, in the current state of where we think our business is, is probably a better question. We have already done this before with a controller called the Freestyle, which many of your readers will remember, which actually had a very similar motion to the Sixaxis. It was for the PC. . . . We admire — I’m on record ad nauseum — what the Wii is doing with the Wii remote. And the Sixaxis, I’ll maybe be a little bit more critical of the reader’s comment that there’s a lot of positive (momentum), because I don’t see a ton. But I’m sure I don’t know what’s in the pipeline from developers working on the PS3. But I feel pretty comfortable where we are.
At this point, I made reference to feedback I’d been getting about a story I’d done on the PlayStation 3 being used in medical research, with PS3 owners running software simulations as part of Standford University’s Folding@Home project. I rephrased a blog question into something a bit broader:
Q: Are we overlooking or is there anything in the works that would make the Xbox that kind of multi-purpose device?
A: We continue to look at this and see whether there’s real value. (Moore mentions that Bill Gates “quite frankly has had a conversation about this” and notes that Gates is interested in applying “philanthropic processing power to big problems”). But I’m not quite sure yet whether we’re seeing real tangible results from the PlayStation 3 Folding@Home initiative.
Q (Antonucci): There seems to be an enormous amount of participation that’s leading to a lot of speed-up in that research. A: Then if we truly believe that we can in some way marshall the resources of a much larger installed base of Xbox 360 owners, with a processer that’s of equal power to the PS3, then you have my commitment that we’ll look at that. And if we believe we can add value to solving a gnarly problem such as the medical problems and the health problems that Folding@Home seems to be doing, then we’ll certainly look at that very strongly.
Q (from reader): I’d like a straight answer on issues with hardware quality (have suffered through 2 defective 360’s in a 7 month span and am about to call it quits with this system). MS claims an ‘accceptable’ 3% failure rate but I imagine the actual number to be much higher — perhaps 2x or 3x more?
A: I can’t comment on failure rates, because it’s just not something – it’s a moving target. What this consumer should worry about is the way that we’ve treated him. Y’know, things break, and if we’ve treated him well and fixed his problem, that’s something that we’re focused on right now. I’m not going to comment on individual failure rates because I’m shipping in 36 countries and it’s a complex business.
Q (from same reader): Also, will future models be designed to run quieter? The fan noise generated from my 360 is so loud as to distract.
A: Noise is something I don’t bury my head in the sand about, and it’s primarily the DVD drive. People get confused with the fan noise, but it’s actually, in some instances, the 12x spinning of the disc that annoys some people. The great majority of people actually don’t notice it, but it’s something we continue to look at. We take that feedback very seriously from consumers, and we’ll continue to look at it. Can’t tell you, can’t make you any promises, that it’s something that’s going to be fixed overnight. I don’t notice it, but maybe I’m different. But I am not oblivious to the fact that some people do.
Q (from reader): What is the most important thing for Microsoft to accomplish in this calendar year?
A: Continue to broaden our base. If you have an installed base that continues to grow, then good things happen. If we can maintain our attach rate as strongly as it is, (good things happen) for the eco-system, the multi-billion-dollar eco-system that surrounds us, whether it’s our publishing or development partners around the world. We need to continue our momentum. We of course need to have great success with games like “Halo 3,” which I think will be the story of 2007.
Q (from same reader): It seems like consumers are identifying with the Wii. What do you believe are the current reasons for the Wii success and how is Microsoft positioned to address these?
A: So I think the Wii is a combination of innovative input — and I’ve been on record (about that) for two years since I first saw it in Tokyo when Iwata-san brought those controllers out — but price is also a major advantage for Nintendo. Their intellectual property has always been strong, has been for a decades. The question is going to be, as we get further down into the life cycle, how sustainable the experience is going to be, how much third party support is going to continue to grow for the platform. And we’re not blind to the fact that we continue to need to make our platform more approachable. Our work with Activision in making “Guitar Hero” such a success over the last couple of weeks, I think, is the tip of the iceberg of some of the work you’re going to see around a more approachable platform. At the same time, I don’t want to lose my hard-core guys, who I love to death and who are huge fans of what we do.
Q: (Antonucci): Last question. I’m going to let you read this one out loud yourself, because there’s a name in here that apparently this reader thinks you’re going to be familiar with (but) that I’ll probably butcher the pronounciation of.
A: “What is Microsoft’s current relationship with Tomonobu Itagaki and why not purchase a Japanese company to gain a foothold in Japan?” Itagaki is a great friend of mine. Itagaki-san is the key developer behind such great games as “Dead or Alive” or Ninja Gaiden.” And of all the Japanese developers, from the very git-go, he believed in the Xbox platform. I’m talking Xbox, not Xbox 360 . . . and more recently through Xbox 360. I’m a huge fan of his. I’ve spent a lot of time with him in Japan. Y’know, he’s a unique individual with the glasses and the long hair. And his games are always interesting of course. The way that the DOA girls show up is always popular within the gaming ranks. . . . I’m a huge fan because of the commitment he gave us early, particularly in the face of ridicule from the Japanese developers and publishers who thought he was an idiot for getting behind Xbox. We now look at great cases like Capcom, who have come to the fold and are are doing phenomenally well with Xbox 360. . . . As regards purchasing a Japanese publisher, we’ll never comment on our acquisition plans at all.
Q (Antonucci): But the larger issue is making more headway in Japan.
A: And you may argue that purchasing a publisher would do that. I’m not totally sure that would be the case, because if you purchase someone, that makes them a first party, and that actually dilutes the value of what you’ve just done, so there’s a business reason why that becomes difficult. I would rather focus on what I’ve done for many many years, which is travel on a regular basis to Tokyo and build relationships with those publishers. One thing I’ve seen — and I’ve been going to Tokyo now for eight years, probably 50 times in the last eight years – is there’s a more global outlook now from Japanese publishers than there has ever been. Capcom (is) the best example of that with “Dead Rising” and “Lost Planet,” with which they’ve done incredibly well. They realize the Japanese domestic market is insufficient to sustain them without globalizing, and, quite frankly Westernizing the way that they go to market. Konami, Sega, Capcom, Namco — all does that same thing. And that bodes well for us, because obviously they see our strength in the Western world and they’re becoming great partners of ours.