Phil Spencer Clarifies Long-Term Xbox Hardware Innovation Vision; Talks PC Gaming and More

on March 4, 2016 7:07 PM

Last week saw the Xbox Spring Showcase in San Francisco. Division head Phil Spencer talked about the possibility of faster hardware innovation for Xbox consoles, and how Microsoft is embracing PC gaming. This caused quite a stir among Xbox fans.

During the latest episode of Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb’s podcast, Spencer gave more color on what he meant.

“We started this discussion in January 2015, and I’m always getting feedback from the PC gaming community. Some of them saying “stay out of here. Phil, you’re an idiot.” I do [read the tweets], and some times I say things that aren’t the smartest things to say, but I listen. I can say this: We’re Microsoft. We build Windows. Success of gaming on Windows is incredibly important for us.

Success of Steam on Windows is incredibly important to us. They’re one of the most important software developers we have on Windows. I believe that having Microsoft taking gaming on PC as a really important strategic endeavor for us is great for Windows gaming.

Now, people will react “ok, it’s the Xbox people, they’re trying to dumb down PC gaming, they’re shipping a bunch of games in the Windows store that don’t support Vsync, don’t support [multiple] GPUs.” I can say, in this journey that we’re on, we’re about bringing the right PC experiences. I’m not gonna say that the things that we’re doing and we’re shipping our kind of 1.0 experience right now in the store, is the end destination. People should not take us embracing PC gaming as us trying to bring the console experience over to PC. They’re uniquely different in ways that we want to embrace both.

And it’s been a great year. We’re kind of now at the point where we’re shipping the games, which is when people give us direct feedback about what they see and what they play. And we hear it. The support for FRAPS, the support for all the things that people are asking for, are absolutely things in our road map. Getting the feedback from the PC gaming community and having them at least recognize that leaning in in this area is great.

And you know. At the showcase event, having the OEMs there, having AMD, having Nvidia, working with them on the hardware they want to put in place… Again, if you’re a PC gamer, I think having Microsoft pay attention to what’s happening with PC gaming with their Windows platform can only be a good thing. And I can say, our interest in coming in here to help grow the community, and grow the ecosystem.”

After that, Hryb asked whether fans can expect new hardware soon, and Spencer responded:

“In the showcase I wanted to stand-up and talk about the vision that we have, which is a longer-term vision. People have asked me before, are we going to do another console? And I say that I fully expect that we will. And people say “well, why do you say fully expect? Why don’t you just say yes?” Hey, I’m in a job right now, and I kinda make the decisions based on what’s today. I can’t always predict the future. But I say, if you think about the strategy we’re on, the strategy is a long-term vision that includes multiple hardware generations on both console, and frankly PC.

I wanted to stand up in front of the room and say that what we’re doing today makes the console ecosystem better, in a way. Because I, both personally, as well as watching what happens in the industry, I’ve said that the kind of “end of a generation” and this huge step-function that happens is not something I embrace. I think it’s something we can do better. I see it in music, I see it in books, I see it in movies. When I buy digital content, that digital content stays with me and I’m able to use it when I go out and get new devices.

The feedback I received… “Am I going to break open my console and start upgrading individual pieces of my console?” That’s not the plan. There is something special about what happens with a console. You buy an applicance-like device. You plug it into your TV. It works when you plug it in. It’s not like I’m going to ship a screwdriver set with every console that comes out.

What I’m saying is: as hardware innovations happen, we want to be able to embrace those in the console space, and make those available, and maybe not have to wait seven or eight years for things to happen. But right now, we’re obviously not announcing hardware. I’m happy with the console we have, the platform we built on top of that console and the constant innovation, and the games that are there. But as a longer-term vision statement, I wanted to make sure people understood that what we’re doing I think is good for the console space, in addition to being good for the PC space.”

During the podcast Spencer also talked more about the release of Quantum Break on PC, mentioning that it was originally announced as Xbox One exclusive because it was originally signed as just that. When Microsoft saw the opportunity to bring the game to Windows, they thought how they could reward the Xbox fans, and giving them a free Windows 10 copy as well seemed the right move to make in that direction.

In addition to that, we hear that there are currently more developers developing on Xbox that there have ever been, and that’s in large part thanks to the id@Xbox program. According to Spencer, the amount of creativity brought to the platform by id@Xbox and the game preview program is “fantastic.”

Spencer also mentioned that he’s as much a fan of the industry as he is a participant in it (and at times that gets him in trouble), and he’s lucky for having found himself in a career that he loves.

Lastly, he talked about Forza Motorsport 6: Apex on Windows 10, saying that it looks “really good.” He also added that he thinks that Turn 10 is “among the best racing studios on the planet,” and to have them focusing both on continuing the franchise on Xbox and on bringing an experience to Windows gamers, furthers their craft.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.
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