The lights are on
Following his appointment as the new head of Xbox, we had a few minutes to speak with Microsoft’s Phil Spencer. During our conversation, Spencer kept returning to a theme of “games first,” marking a chance from how Microsoft has positioned the Xbox One since its reveal in May 2013.
“My goal, first and foremost, is to make sure that everybody understands that Xbox is a gaming brand and it’s going to be gaming first,” Spencer tells us. “That’s a leadership principle that I will bring to the program from day one. It’s not that it hasn’t been there in the past, but if you put the studio guy at the head, you kinda know what you’re going to get.”
Despite this shift in how Microsoft talks about the Xbox One, the company isn’t abandoning the entertainment side of the console. “If you’re going to be an incredible consumer electronics device in the home today, you’re going to do multiple things,” Spencer says. However, he reiterates that gaming will be at the forefront. “We have always been, since the beginning, all about games at Xbox. I want to make sure that shows up not only internally, but also externally.”
Prior to his promotion, Spencer handled first-party game development as the head of Microsoft Studios. His new position also puts him at the head of third-party relationships. This is in part due to the consolidation of the platform team (formerly headed by Marc Whitten), Spencer’s Microsoft Studios teams, and a leadership group for the brand.
Currently, he’s working on getting up to speed with the different groups now under his leadership. E3, which is only two months away, is a major focus for him, though. He tells us that this year’s press conference will be similar to last year’s, focusing largely on games for the 90 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, there will be new announcements and updates on exclusives, the latter of which Spencer places a great deal of significance. “It’s an incredibly important part of what we do as a platform holder, both for us and for our third-party partners,” he says. “It’s one of the things that makes me so happy about Titanfall, not just that it was on our platform, but to see a studio like Respawn – a brand new studio – have such a great success with their first game.”
Spencer is looking to create more success stories like Titanfall. “We need to win with the gamer,” he says. “[Titanfall is] another great testament to how great content leads to incredible usage and sales. It’s something I want every person on the program to understand, that we’ll be leading with gaming on Xbox One.”