Microsoft Games Group Vice President Shane Kim says that in order to become the leader in interactive entertainment, the company is going to have to broaden its horizons "well beyond gaming."
Speaking at the Play conference at UCB's Haas School of Business, Kim acknowledged that Microsoft lags considerably behind Nintendo with mainstream audiences, but said the company hasn't given up the chase. But to be successful, he said the company's focus would have to be widened to include other forms of entertainment, including videos, music and social networking. "I believe to be the leader in interactive entertainment, we have to expand well beyond gaming," he said.
That includes things like music and fitness games, he said, noting that Guitar Hero and Rock Band account for 16 percent of the videogame business, while Wii Fit has been a huge seller for Nintendo. In fact, Kim said he loves Nintendo because it's making great strides in bringing videogaming to non-traditional audiences and showing Microsoft what it needs to accomplish to be successful in the future. "I can tell you how that conversation goes at Microsoft," he said. "They say, 'I don't think that's a game.' But the guy at Nintendo says, 'I don't care. I'm selling a whole bunch of that stuff.'"
He also said that Microsoft's leap into "digital convergence" through initiatives like its partnership with Netflix would continue to be an advantage into the future, and that digital downloads would ultimately prove to be more important than Sony's Blu-ray format. Microsoft plans to stand by the Xbox 360 for a long time to come, he added; when asked how long the company planned to continue manufacturing the console, he said, "One day longer than the lifespan of the PlayStation 3."