In an interview in this week’s Famitsu, Microsoft chief Xbox officer and senior vice president Robert “Robbie” Bach discussed the Xbox 360 at length, covering everything from the console’s launch to plans for expanding the reach of Xbox Live.
Bach confirmed that currently, only 10 percent of Xbox owners–some 2 million users–subscribe to Xbox Live. With the addition of the free “Silver” version of Xbox Live, Bach believes that about 50 percent of the console’s owners will go online via the 360. However, they will still have to pay to play games online via the new Xbox Live Gold.
In terms of games, Bach confirmed that Microsoft will be announcing its launch titles for Europe in the “very near future.” He told Famitsu that he is also feeling confident about the Japanese and American launch lineups for the console. Bach also said there is a “clear vision” for the release schedule for the 18 months after launch, which will include many third-party games that haven’t been announced yet.
Famitsu also asked Bach about the beta test for Final Fantasy XI for the Xbox 360. Bach revealed that Microsoft and Square Enix are planning an extremely large-scale beta test for FFXI. It will be so large, in fact, that Bach said anyone that buys an Xbox 360 should be able to participate. Of course, gamers will need to pick up the Xbox 360 package bundled with a hard drive, since FFXI requires it to be played.
Famitsu also asked Bach about whether the public can expect Microsoft to develop an original massively multiplayer role-playing game for the Xbox 360. He said developing a MMORPG requires a complicated infrastructure, so releasing one soon after the launch of a new console is not realistic. However, he hinted that gamers can look forward to a “new MMO” two to three years after the Xbox 360’s launch. It was unclear if he was referring to any of the previously announced 360 MMOs, which include Huxley and APB.