Xbox Live president on the rise of the online gamer and how he survived Sony

Kelvin Hayden, president of Xbox Live, sits down with CNN travel correspondent Richard Quest to chat about gaming and time management.

Here are some highlights from their conversation:

“We don’t really believe in saving time. If you start to save time, the only way you’re going to avoid life, only the way you’re going to avoid your pain is to change yourself for the better. Once you live your life the way you should, then that becomes your time management tool.”

“The way I play a video game is very scientific, I play it at very late hours of the night after midnight when my wife left and I’m reading a story or something and I’m still in the zone.”

“When the first iteration of the Xbox came out, it was very difficult to understand, a very new platform that hadn’t really gone viral before, so a lot of gamers were very insecure. And you were very welcome with this platform because it had the Internet. You were able to find games, online achievements and have players within your area network.”

“It was an awful time to be an Xbox fan back then because Xbox Live was still pretty nascent and there were no Xbox games on the Windows 7 store. So, you could only purchase games if you wanted to license them.”

“Sony really seems to be the brand that everybody thinks of in terms of game consoles, whether it’s the PS3 or the PlayStation. Are you guys hoping to do something comparable to that?”

“I’m not sure how they view us. At least in our headspace, we focus more on the gaming aspect, with the Xbox, we have a 360 which has nearly [a] 5 million active members. … So, if you look at the economics of running an online gaming service, everyone’s expecting us to do it quite well. But most of us see us as the 360 player. If you look at the operational side, we’re looking to expand the 360 user base so that we’re not this struggling low-volume, low-value and low-volume revenue operator.”

“That side of it, how did you perceive the gaming audience as it was at that time when Xbox was launched, how has it changed?”

“We started from a couple of angles, one, to try and understand the basics of the gaming community. Why do you play games? What makes games so great? I think this comes from Steve Jobs in his work with Pixar, the whole idea that games weren’t that fun. No one likes to experience that. They don’t want to lose out.”

“Then you look at what the consumer was, were the first adopters. There was this kind of hopeful state, very much like 18 years ago, where the mainstream consumer were going to be the ones to shift this from a gamer community to a mainstream audience. They didn’t seem to want anything digital as well, so Microsoft really turned the platform on its head, turned it all into a music console.”

“We had a hearing that involved Hollywood, the music industry, the film industry, a lot of executives actually told us that if we didn’t do this, if we were just going to make another game console, we were going to be proven dead. And therefore, we moved very quickly to go after the entertainment community. I don’t see us going into any other market too soon.”

“Now, what we’re really getting to, we’re getting closer to the video gamers. I do think there is an evolution that’s happening in these younger generations of gamers, even the ‘gamers’ themselves, who are becoming consumers of all the things that are around them.”

“When you go back to the beginning of the Xbox launch back in 2001 and 2000, where was the online community then, where is it now?”

“The Xbox community is really an amazing thing and one of the best implementations of content creation and sharing. We see the evolution in the video game space and what that means to the gamer and the community and what that means to the company is exciting.”

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