During an all-out interview as part of Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb’s podcast Microsoft’s Xbox division head Phil Spencer had a lot to say about the current performance of the Xbox teams on both the software and hardware sides, giving an overview on his first few months on the role and a bird-eye view on what’s up in Redmond.
Spencer mentioned that he has done a lot of learning during the seven months he has been at the helm, and that the learning helped him set the direction he wants for the platform and for what Xbox and gaming means at Microsoft. He has a “Ton of confidence” in what the XBox teams are capable to do on both hardware and software, and watching them accelerate has been “incredible to watch.”
He continued by explaining that the response to the Xbox One announcement in 2013 took a toll on the team, as they care about their work, but since this year’s E3 the teams have been performing beyond his expectations, setting goals for themselves. Spencer is “So proud” of the XBox One’s fall lineup, looking at the quality, at the fact that the teams are hitting deadlines and the servers are staying up.
It’s honestly not a shot at anybody else. I’m just saying that the servers capabilities for games is something that’s still relatively new for a lot of us in the console space. We just shipped sunset ovberdrive and had a tremendous day one, and sales are really good, and for the most time everybody is playing and having a good time. With Master Chief, cross your fingers, same thing will happen.
Let’s look at Horizon, Sunset, Master Chief… The first party teams are doing incredible work, starting to spend more and more time on what’s coming next year, and it makes this job so much easier when the teams are just coming in with such a great bar for themselves.
Spencer then explained that besides Microsoft Studios’ part in Sunset Overdrive, it’s great to see an independent studio like Insomniac being successful and he’s very happy for them after all the time and effort they put into the game.
During the interview there were some nuggest for PC gamers as well, with Spencer mentioning that him being the head of Xbox and Gaming at Microsoft are two factors in sync, and he wants gamers to feel that Microsoft being both the company that makes Windows and Xbox is a good thing for them. He promised that there will be more to say in 2015 and he feels that Microsoft having a strong gaming presence on PC will be a really good thing for gamers.
Quite interesting was also what Spencer said about Microsoft’s current attitude towards the Xbox business:
There’s a lot of exclitement around what we’re doing at Xbox inside the company right now.
I know there were some questions six months ago, people asked about Microsoft’s commitment to Xbox and I can tell you right now, from the top of the company down the amount of interest and excitement about what we’re doing here has never been stronger in all the time I’ve been at Xbox. This is a fabulous time to be in the business.
I get questions about the bundles and their pricing, and how we’re gonna do… And people are just amped up for the kind of brand momentum that Xbox is building and what that can mean.
He finally mentioned that interacting with the Twitter community has been great.
I think it’s critical because we’re all kind of in this together. For those of us that have an Xbox we’ve invested in it, they want to have a voice on where it goes and that makes complete sense to me. They want it to be as successful as it can be, so that the great games continue to come to the platform that they’ve chosen, and I think that we’re all aligned in that.
It’s definitely intriguing to see how Microsoft is reacting to being in the position of the underdog (at least sales-wise) in the console market. I think it’s doubtless that they have accelerated in an impressive way. Will they manage to fully break free of the brakes put on their wheels by the initial hiccups? Time will tell, but the effort and results they’re showing are commendable at the very least.