Culture

Xbox chief talks up next generation

Microsoft's main game executive pay respects to PSP, touts MTV unveiling of next Xbox.

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Sony's PlayStation Portable is an impressive little gadget, but it won't give the company any advantage in the battle for the living room, Microsoft's top Xbox executive said Wednesday.

Speaking at a Churchill Club event here, Robbie Bach, senior vice president and chief Xbox officer for Microsoft, gave Sony credit for designing a slick handheld game player. But he said whatever success the PSP achieves is unlikely to boost sales for the next version of Sony's PlayStation living room game console.

"It's a beautiful device, great industrial design," he said of the PSP. But "I think people will see them as separate entities."

Sony and Microsoft are set to launch the next era of their battle to dominate the $10 billion video game industry when they introduce new versions of their game machines next month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Microsoft will jump the gun by a few days with a May 12 MTV special that will showcase the next version of the Xbox.

Bach said the decision to give the next Xbox a public unveiling on worldwide TV, as opposed to the usual press briefing, is partly a recognition that games no longer appeal to just a niche audience.

"For the first time, the industry is saying we want consumers to see this first," he said. "It's a recognition of this as a broad consumer market."

While advancements in video game hardware will likely continue to run on the current four- to five-year cycle, Bach said consumers can also expect more gradual enhancements through updates to software and the Xbox Live online gaming service.

"Sure, there'll be a next generation at some point," he said. "But you'll also see enhancements happen along the way more and more frequently."