Phil Spencer Is Like a Chess Player, Always Thinking Five Steps Ahead, Says Xbox Game Studios Head

Alessio Palumbo
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Phil Spencer, the Microsoft executive who runs the whole Gaming section nowadays, was the subject of a lengthy featured article published yesterday by Gamespot.

In the article, which recounts Phil Spencer's long history with Microsoft (he joined in 1988 as an intern and worked at first on projects like the now-defunct digital encyclopedia Encarta), there are a few interesting quotes from himself and his colleagues that help to understand both the executive and the person.

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For example, Matt Booty, who took the previous position held by Phil Spencer when he became head of Xbox Game Studios, described him as somewhat of a 'chess player'.

There's no part or thing that happens at Xbox that Phil doesn't want to know about or be a part of. He is always thinking about where we need to be and how to get there. He is like a chess player in that way, always planning five steps ahead. If you just trust in that, he will get you there.

For his part, Phil Spencer keeps humble and doesn't want to pose as someone he's not.

It doesn't mean that I'm perfect at this job. Obviously, you can get smarter people to do this job. I mean, I don't even have an MBA. There's a ton of things that I'm incapable of doing. If you put me as head of Microsoft Office or something, it would seem totally disingenuous. That's not what I am.

What he is, however, is very passionate about gaming. In recent years, after taking over from Don Mattrick in the aftermath of the disastrous Xbox One launch, Phil Spencer managed to effectively turn the ship. He promised increased investment in first-party games and that was delivered with seven studio acquisitions and the foundation of a brand new studio (The Initiative) in the last fourteen months.

He promised to bring Xbox games to a much wider audience and that's happening, too. All first-party Xbox games are now also available day-and-date on Windows PC with Xbox Play Anywhere cross-progression and, in most cases, cross-play as well. He spearheaded initiatives like Microsoft's own Netflix for gaming, Xbox Game Pass (also now available on PC), and the upcoming Project xCloud which is going to allow Xbox titles to be played on mobile devices like smartphones via streaming.

There's little doubt his actions as an executive have been positive for not only the Xbox brand but the industry as a whole.

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