Larry Hryb, better known to the Xbox community as Major Nelson, runs one of the biggest gaming communities on the Web at Major Nelson.com. He’s been gracious enough to take time out of his very busy schedule leading up to huge fall releases to do an interview with me and present it here for you, my fellow Gearheads.
Without further ado, here is my interview with Major Nelson.
James: The Xbox 360 has some monster games coming in 2008. Several have already arrived, including GTA, and one is coming soon in Ninja Gaiden 2. Then later in the year you’ve got Fable 2, Halo Wars and Gears of War 2. If you had to say what game you anticipate spending the most time with this year, what would it be? Remember, this is an interview for a Gears of War community, not to sway your opinion or anything. Heh.
Major Nelson: Then clearly, I need to say Gears of War 2..right? I am actually very much looking forward to see what Epic and the team have done !
James: Are you more of a Gears of War or a Halo multiplayer type and why? Don’t tell me you like both equally either. I’ve yet to meet any true gamer who loves both equally. You usually either prefer one or the other.
Major Nelson: At this point, I’d have to say Halo. I enjoy the various game variables they have built into the game to allow an endless number of game types.
James: That being said, what’s your favorite weapon and map in the first Gears multiplayer? How about which character you usually play as on both the COG and the Locust side?
Major Nelson: I am COG all the way, and my favorite weapon is the Lancer without a doubt, as is evident my picture here.
James: A few media outlets have criticized your podcast and site as being disingenuous and not as forthright about your connection with Xbox as an employee. They’ve said that you aren’t as forthcoming about your connection as you should be and they cite the PlayStation blog as an example of being straightforward. What would you say to that charge?
Major Nelson: Considering I have a note on my blog about who I work for and a quick search of my name will reveal very quickly who I am and who I work for. I make no effort to hide this.
James: A lot of people assume there is a healthy dislike between Microsoft and Sony. Is this like a Yankees-Red Sox rivalry or more of a friendly rivalry?
Major Nelson: Oh I’d say the answer is somewhere in between. Sony is a solid company and a great competitor in the console space.
James: Sony seems to be gaining some momentum with Metal Gear Solid 4 releasing exclusively on the PS3. How concerned is the Xbox team with the perception that the PS3 is becoming a much more viable purchase?
Major Nelson: I think our strong portfolio and pricing speaks for itself 😉
James: How much do you think Blu Ray winning the high def format wars will impact the console battle?
Major Nelson: It may have indirect impact. What I mean by that it is is in every PS3, so they’re going to have a challenge getting the price down to a more mainstream level.
James: There seems to be a popular perception out there that Microsoft doesn’t view the Nintendo Wii as true competition and that Sony is the main competition for the 360. Is that the case? If it is, aren’t you guys limiting what the 360 can be for the mass market?
Major Nelson: The Wii is certainly a competitor. We’re always evaluating what they’re doing in the market and how we address their success.
James: Should Microsoft still be offering an Arcade SKU when I’ve talked to video game journalists and they tell me that the numbers have shown that most people who download arcade games off of XBLA have a hard drive?
Major Nelson: Now that the Xbox 360 Arcade is at (US) $199, that is the sweet spot for many consumers. It very much has a role in our product line up.
James: Is E the permanent co-host with you now? What makes him an ideal Ed McMahon to your Johnny Carson?
Major Nelson: He is permanent….when he shows up 😉
James: You’ve had a chance to interview some luminaries in the video game industry. My personal favorite podcast interview was with Marty O’Donnell. In fact that was one of my favorite interviews on any podcast ever. Who was your favorite interview and why?
Major Nelson: Certainly Marty is up near the top, although I have to say interviewing Ken Levine (BioShock) is always a blast. He is really plugged into the community, and that is apparent when we speak.
James: Do you think that companies deciding to open up like this publicly is ultimately a good idea given that most of the “unbiased” games journalists claim that these podcasts are essentially nothing more than delivering company messages? On top of that, you also have to answer to angry mobs of 360 fans whenever something goes awry with the service as evidenced with the widespread outages over the 2007 holidays.
Major Nelson: I can’t speak for any other company, but I can tell you that Xbox has a history of having very direct relations with the Community. We made a conscious decision that we wanted to be part of the conversation years ago…other companies are just now starting to realize that which has confirmed the work we’ve being doing.
James: Finally, where would you like to have the podcast go? Are there specific improvements you’d like to make to it?
Major Nelson: I am always looking to see where to take it next. I am working on a few ideas, but nothing to share yet 😉