Well I didn't expect this news when I woke up this morning. Radio and TV presenter Jonathan Ross has been hired by Microsoft to work as an executive producer on upcoming Xbox One titles at famed first party developers like Rare and Lionhead.
It's not clear if there's some specific game he's working on, or if in his producer capacity he'll be hyping games more than making them, but Ross does have a history of being a gamer so it's not the craziest of moves. An avid gamer with a big name is perhaps a real way for some ground floor gamer wish-lists to make it into big developer meetings.
Ultimately though, the official Microsoft line is that Ross is there to “change [Microsoft's] thinking.”
“We wanted to bring in new talent that would challenge the way we build games and the way we think about what an audience is and what is entertainment,” executive Phil Harrison said (via Eurogamer). “We want to broaden the concept of gaming to maybe blur the distinctions about what is a traditional game and what is a traditional television programme and what is traditional linear media.”
Other Microsoft bosses described Ross as a great mixture of mediums, since he has a working history as radio host, TV presenter, film reviewer and game producer, with his own developer Hotsauce having produced a game for iOS. Lee Schuneman, head at Microsoft studio Lift London, said that ultimately: “Our ambition is to create these new experiences that join TV and gaming together.”
A focus on TV as well as gaming? We'd never have seen that coming from the way the Xbox One was marketed…[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbWgUO-Rqcw']
KitGuru Says: I'm actually pretty stoked about this. Like him or not, Ross has a massive knowledge of pop culture, gaming, anime and lots of nerd related hobbies. He's the polar opposite of how most high-level executives at companies like Microsoft are imagined, so hopefully he'll bring some much needed gamer insight to game development at these studios.
As an aside, Ross also wrote a brilliant comic blending non-traditional vampires, with gangland warfare and aliens, called Turf. I highly recommend it.