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Lionhead: Xbox One U-turns show that Microsoft isn't "aloof and removed" from gamers

"The fact that Microsoft changed its Xbox One online policy within a week - is that a bad thing?"

Microsoft's dramatic curtailing of such policies as Xbox One's online DRM and always-on Kinect have provoked a certain amount of scorn from some quarters, it's fair to say. Others, however, see these "One80s" as evidence that the manufacturer genuinely cares about the core games enthusiasts it's often accused of abandoning. Among the latter is Lionhead's creative director Gary Carr, who spoke at length to OXM on the subject in an interview you'll find in issue 103.

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The issue in question goes on sale tomorrow - subscribers should be receiving their copies now, assuming they haven't received them already. Here's a snippet from my conversation with Carr, who insists that Microsoft isn't just a bunch of "dudes in suits".

"Talking about the E3 briefing, I think there is a connection to be honest," he said. "A lot of people sometimes think that Microsoft is too far removed from what people are saying and what people want, but I don't think that's actually true.

"The fact that Microsoft turned round and changed its Xbox One online policy within a week - is that a bad thing? I think that's a great thing. I think it is listening. It turned around and admitted 'we got some things wrong, we've heard you and we've changed our policy on that'."

Carr echoed the often-expressed view that gaming's future is digital-only, but conceded that forcing the switch-over wasn't wise.

"I think it's obviously reaching for the future, and that's what Apple and all these guys want to do, but you can't always be sure when people are ready for change, or whether it's the right change," he said. "I think the fact that Microsoft turned around and changed what it showed at E3 shows that the team are not as aloof and removed as their reputation suggests."

He had warm words for Microsoft Studios corporate vice-president and Lionhead's new boss John Needham in particular. "I know quite a few of these guys. Phil Spencer's great, really down to earth, and John Needham who I'm working with - I think these people aren't so distant from you or I. I think the future of Microsoft's exec team is in good hands with people like that."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his decision to retire last week, following the departure of Interactive Entertainment Business president Don Mattrick. The company has now consolidated its various entertainment divisions under Windows co-head Julie Larson-Green.

It's not clear how much of this will affect what happens at ground-level in the games division. Personally, I've been quite impressed by Spencer's career at the helm, mainly for his repeated references to Exciting Things like Crackdown 3, among other possible Microsoft reboots. Check out this chat about Xbox One exclusives for more on that front - and watch out for the new issue tomorrow.

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