The newly appointed head of Microsoft’s Xbox Department Phil Spencer is a gamer, and his professional pedigree as the head of Microsoft Game Studios indicates him as the best man to put gaming at the front and center of the company’s business, and today he explained a few very interesting concepts on Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb’s podcast.
Spencer mentioned that the last six months have been a great period to be in the console gaming business, and in gaming in general, and what he’s thinking about is how to make gaming on a television as relevant as it can be. There are millions and millions of people playing games on smart devices, and Spencer wants to look at it as an opportunity and not as a threat, as there are more people playing games than ever before.
We have a unique place in the home, on the biggest screen in the home, highest fidelity, probably the best sound system, multiple ways of input, listen to voice, holding a controller, really immersive games, and let’s stay on that. That’s our differentiator in the console space, and make sure that as people are finding games, whether it’s Candy Crush, or Clash of Clans, or League of Legends, let’s make sure when they land in the console space that it feels like it’s additive to the experience. That it’s “this is the place where I go to play this kind of games”
Spencer mentions that the model in his head is TV and movie theaters. He likes going to the movies and he watches TV and they don’t conflict with one another. They’re complementary. In the same way console gaming and other kinds of gaming can coexist, and realizing that and seizing this opportunity can help Xbox grow in the console space.
Spencer had a discussion with the new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, where it was mentioned that big media companies are realizing the importance of gaming, and not just casual gaming, but also immersive core gaming, as the Oculus/Facebook deal suggests. That’s why gaming is going to be a “first class citizen” at Microsoft, not just for Xbox, but for the whole company. Nadella told Spencer that his job is to turn gaming into a “critical asset” across everything the company does, across Windows, phones and “absolutely starting with Xbox.”
Further on, Spencer mentioned that the most important opportunity for Xbox is to stay at the forefront of what gaming is all about, making sure that they have the best creators or their platforms, inviting the most creative work to come on board and helping it flourish.
That is goal number one for me: let’s make sure we have the best platform for the best creators.
Spencer also stated that he believes that gaming can be “the real catalyst for Microsoft’s reemergence as a consumer company.” Apple became a very relevant consumer brand in the nineties on the back of music, even if they weren’t all about music. Microsoft has the same opportunity with gaming.
Talking about the current period, he’d like people in the future to look at it and think “that was the time when Microsoft committed to gaming across everything that it did on Xbox One, and that was an important part in their history.”
While it’s funny to hear people asking Spencer about what he wants his legacy to be just four days after he took the helm, we can definitely hope for his wish to come true.