Spencer: Xbox Has to Mean Quality Games; We’ve Got Work to do There, Our First Party Output Hasn’t Been the Best
Phil Spencer, now head of all things gaming at Microsoft, was recently interviewed by Fortune Magazine. Over the long (40+ minutes) 1-to-1 video Q&A, Spencer frankly admitted the struggles that Microsoft head with their first party output in recent years and vowed to do better through a variety of improvements.
[...] And I think the power of content, I see it every day, the things that people come to Xbox...very few people turn on their Xbox to stare at the dashboard. People turn on their Xbox to go play games, and I think us having a strong first party Xbox means when I think about Xbox, I'm going to think about quality games. We have work to do there. We haven't done our best work over the last few years with our first party output.
We made a conscious effort to invest in our first party. I think some of that is standing on stage and announcing the acquisition studios, some it's the hiring that we're doing at the studios that we already have. Some of it is ensuring that we have the right amount of time and we're able to focus. Some of that is just, you know, the autonomy that I have in running the games organization now under Satya that allows us to look at game development for what it is. It is this weird mix of technology and art as well. And it's not always easy to schedule those things and ensure we have the time to get things right. And that hasn't always been true in the organization, but I feel good about that. I know our fans want to see us do better and the teams are completely aligned behind that desire.
Another highlight of this interview saw Spencer linking the growing importance of games-as-a-service with having a cloud infrastructure that allows players to keep playing those titles across generations and devices.
If you go to the other extreme of console generations of old, you would ship a console, all the games would run only on that console. When the next console comes out, you put all of the old stuff in a box, though, in the closet, and everything is brand new, right? And you say, okay, like, that's not a scenario that helps gaming grow. What it does do is it can cause somebody that was on your last console, like now they have to go buy all new games on the new platform, we want to create real differentiation, there was some ease of development. But now when you look at the games that are out there, like, Blizzard just launched the 15th anniversary of WoW. These are games that have decade-plus [life] and there's still interesting things for people to go do in those games. And I think our role as a game industry, if you want to go invest your time and your money in these great franchises, we should make them live as long as possible. Like we don't have the end moment of a lot of these games, these are games that that will want to persist. So it's why the focus on on the cloud infrastructure, which allows these games to move from device to device, or at least your state on the game, even if the game has a local runtime. But when I log in on Xbox Live on my Android phone, I'm on the same Xbox Live than I am on an Xbox console is really important. But that per device of 'everything is only going to live on this device and the kind of beginning, middle and end of the content, the game experiences only live on that one device'. It's just not where the biggest games in the world are today.
Towards the end of the chat, Phil Spencer went on to say that Microsoft is taking its time to make sure everything is right with Project xCloud before launching the streaming service's public trials and besides, xCloud is being built for the next decade as it won't replace consoles or PCs any time soon. Still, Project xCloud is expected to be available for public trials before the end of the year - stay tuned on Wccftech to be alerted the minute the date is finally revealed.