Speaking at the ELSPA International Games Summit in London, Microsoft corporate VP Peter Moore has predicted that the company's first-mover advantage with Xbox 360 will allow the console to reach 10 million installed base "very quickly."
Asked what position he expects the Xbox 360 to be in by the time Sony's PlayStation 3 arrives on the market, Moore commented that it was "difficult to say until we know what 'Spring' means," referring to Sony Computer Entertainment boss Ken Kutaragi's stated launch window for PS3 of Spring 2006.
However, he went on to say that Microsoft has a target of 10 million units, explaining that the firm believes that historically, reaching that threshold has given consoles "tremendous momentum" in the marketplace.
"I'm not in any way saying that he who gets to 10 million first wins," he continued, "but that's a target that we in Redmond believe that we can get to very quickly."
Pressed on his expected timeframe for reaching that goal, Moore went on to say that as the company expects "unconstrained demand" for the Xbox 360, the question becomes a supply issue - but he did say that 12 to 16 months was his expected timeframe.
Also during his talk, Moore said that he expects the games market to grow to 160 to 180 million hardware units in the next-generation; at present, the combined installed base of the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube is around 130 million units.
He reiterated his colleague J Allard's comment, made at E3 last month in Los Angeles, that the next-generation could touch a "billion consumers" - but clarified slightly, saying that he was referring to the industry as a whole, including all three next-generation consoles, rather than simply to Xbox 360.
Speaking about the factors which will drive the growth of the next generation, Moore talked about the industry's need to broaden its audience, both geographically and demographically - and highlighted the growth of high definition television as a key factor which will drive next-gen consoles to new consumers.
Addressing European concerns specifically, he said that while Europe lags behind in HDTV adoption at present, he expects the HD broadcast of the World Cup in 2006 to be a "tipping point" for the uptake of the standard here.
However, he also revealed that the Xbox 360 will be compatible with the VGA connector used by computer monitors and many LCD panels, which are very popular in Europe and will allow consumers to enjoy HD-like resolutions without buying new equipment.
Moore also spoke directly to Microsoft's critics who have likened the Xbox 360 to the Dreamcast, which also had a significant first mover advantage over Sony's PlayStation 2 in the current generation, but was ultimately withdrawn from the market.
The former Sega of America boss, who oversaw the launch of Dreamcast in that territory, argued that the issues with the Dreamcast were totally different to the situation with Xbox 360, and that its mistakes "won't be repeated" by Microsoft.
Zero momentum at launch, an underfinanced company, poor ongoing support from publishers and what he described as "an atrophied brand" were to blame for the failure of Dreamcast, along with the online gaming premise simply being too early, he said.
"There is no linkage between [Xbox 360 and Dreamcast]," he concluded.
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