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Phil Spencer Is Focused On Winning Back Xbox Customer Trust

by Mike Futter on Oct 09, 2015 at 04:33 AM

“For me, what I think we fundamentally lost was the trust of our most loyal customers,” says Head of Xbox Phil Spencer in a recent interview. “We lost the trust in them that they were at the center of our decision-making process. Were we making a product for us, or were we making a product for the gamers?”

Spencer has been serving in his role, leading the Xbox team for 18 months now. In that time, he has earned the admiration of fans due to a reputation for candor and honesty.

In a thirty-minute interview at the 2015 GeekWire Summit, Spencer addressed the current state of the industry speaking plainly about the challenges facing his team and the competition in the console space.

When I spoke with Spencer at Gamescom 2014, he was clear in his goals. “I want to win this generation,” he said. In the intervening 18 months, Sony has pulled out ahead in worldwide console sales. This has prompted a shift in how Xbox’s top decision maker views his own team and its fans. 

“What I quickly realized is you can only control as a leader what you can control: the products that you build, the features that you add to your platform, the way you talk about yourselves and your team and the products that you build,” Spencer says. “Sony’s having incredible success with the PlayStation 4, and the’ve earned that. But for me as a leader of my team and somebody who is interacting with the Xbox community, it was much more beneficial and I could have more impact focusing on the product that we have. It was a change for me. Even in the 18 months, I’ve learned this.”

He says that he’s going to be focusing less on what Sony and others are doing and more on what his team is delivering. “You’ll hear me talk a lot less about the competition. It’s easy for people to say, ‘You’re losing, so of course you’re not going to bring that up.’ I think, and maybe we’ll test this some day, if I’m winning, I’ll stay in the same swim lane. It’s really about the product that we have and how we treat the customers of our box.”

The entire interview is worth watching, as Spencer reveals truths about brand identity, how backward compatibility is a symbol as much as a feature, and the ongoing work to satisfy Xbox One customers and woo new owners. 

[Source: GeekWire on YouTube via Eurogamer]


Our Take
One of the reasons I enjoy interviewing Phil Spencer is because he is willing to speak plainly on the state of the industry. The honesty he displays in interviews, including this one, is admirable. His comments about how the launch affected the broader Xbox team reflects a leader that understands his team. 

Most importantly, he doesn’t shy away from his role in the earliest Xbox One decisions as a member of the leadership team. If you have the slightest interest in the console space, this interview is a half-hour well spent.