Peter Moore, the one-time head of Sega of America who is now a Microsoft corporate VP for retail sales and marketing, has launched a scathing attack on Nintendo’s strategy in the console market and on handheld gaming as a whole.
Speaking at yesterday’s ELSPA Games Summit in London, Moore told his audience that Microsoft has no intentions of following Sony and Nokia into the handheld gaming business, commenting that “we’re not in that business and there are no plans to be in that business right now.”
(Which isn’t to say that plans haven’t existed to “be in that business” in the past – it’s fairly widely known that a portable gaming project dubbed the “Xboy” was undertaken at Microsoft in recent years, although it never bore fruit and it’s thought that it was abandoned before prototype systems were created.)
In fact, Microsoft is not only not planning to enter the portable business, but is hugely dismissive of the whole sector, with Moore describing handheld gaming as “a very solitary, time-killing activity.”
“It’s not something you share,” he explained. “We believe that the future is the social element of gaming, and that’s going to be done through a console, not through a handheld gaming device”.
Anyone who’s ever whiled away the hours on a flight or train journey by playing GBA games against their travelling companions, or children who battle their Pokemon against one another in the schoolyard, might disagree with Moore on this point.
In fact, his statement bears more than a few of the hallmarks of a comment by Nokia’s Ilkka Raiskinen, who was quoted last week as saying that the GBA is “for 10 year olds” and that “if you’re 20 or 25 years old, it’s probably not a good idea to draw a Game Boy out of your pocket on a Friday night in a public space.”
Nintendo itself came in line for some scathing remarks from Moore as well, as he questioned the value of the company’s focus on GBA to GameCube connectivity. “When I was at Sega we did that with Sonic Advance – and the consumer went, big deal! Someone’s yet to explain to me the value of hooking up your handheld device to your console.”
Moore’s comments contrast starkly with the presentation given by SCEE president Chris Deering on the previous day of the summit, where Deering suggested that Sony’s PlayStation Portable device might actually be pitched as complementing Nintendo’s Game Boy range rather than as a direct competitor. Sony, alone of Nintendo’s competitors, seems to understand how incredibly powerful the Game Boy franchise is – but only time will tell whether Nokia and Microsoft have grounds for their brash approaches, or whether Sony is right to tread carefully around the dominant platform in the handheld market.
On a personal note, I think Peter Moore is full of hot air. He didn’t do much for Sega here in the US and he is not doing much for Microsoft either. Everything he predicts has gone bad.