Spencer: I’m Not Deaf To The Meme That We Need To Invest More In Content, We’re Definitely Doing It
Microsoft announced yesterday that Matt Booty, formerly head of all things Minecraft, will now be Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Game Studios while Phil Spencer has moved up as Executive Vice President of Gaming.
In a lengthy interviewed published by VentureBeat in the occasion, Spencer confirmed that this is part of Microsoft's promised increased investment in first-party content with Matt Booty playing a "critical role" in handling the strategy going forward.
I’m not deaf to the meme out there regarding our content and our need to invest more. Definitely, we are at a point where we’re investing more and we’ll continue to do that. When I look at Matt and his responsibility with his team, it’s about charting our future in first-party content. I feel like with each one of the leaders we have, there’s an existing plan, and I feel good about that plan, but we know that the plan all-up for studios is expanding. Having Matt’s leadership there in navigating the expansion, what bets we make, the teams we bet on, the teams we create, is going to be critical.
Some of it is with the existing leaders we have there, and there are always opportunities to do more with the teams we have. But also, as we expand, having a leader in place so new investments can be driven and land in the strategy we have is going to be critical for me. That’s really where I look at Matt’s focus: both the existing franchises, and equally, if not a little more, thinking about our future content and how that growth happens in a thoughtful way, a way that delivers for our fans.
Spencer's statement is definitely music for the ears of Xbox (and Windows 10 PC) fans. While the next wave of first-party games due in 2018 includes some interesting titles, it doesn't compare favorably to the slate of exclusives Sony has in store for PlayStation 4 (or Nintendo for the Switch, for that matter).
Matt Booty also chimed in to highlight the importance of building bridges between Microsoft's internal development studios.
Much more important, though, I think there’s a real opportunity well above the reality of running a large business, which is the opportunity for the studios to build some bridges between each other. As Phil pointed out, the studio heads really do get along with each other, spend quite a bit of time meeting together and thinking about how we can support each other, but getting studios together for things like—let’s get all our art directors together. Let’s have some opportunities for studios to visit each other and see what they’re doing in terms of technology.
Those things take time and coordination. They need a dedicated team to make that happen. I’m most excited to think about the opportunity of bringing the studio cultures together, so they can learn from each other, and really being of service to the studio heads so they can go after some things around culture, around operations, and around getting ourselves best positioned behind the overall strategy. It just takes time in the day. We all feel fortunate that the company has a commitment to first-party content, to the extent that we’re willing to dedicate a leader focused on helping studios and moving our first-party content forward.
This is undoubtedly a crucial aspect and one that Sony Worldwide Studios mastered over the years, with the likes of Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica Studios, Guerrilla Games and now Kojima Productions sharing technical knowledge in order to keep improving their PlayStation releases.
It will definitely take some time to get there for Microsoft Game Studios, but at least it looks like they have a plan now, which apparently includes a new Fable game in development at Playground Games as we had reported earlier.