Phil Spencer: For a Long Time, Xbox Was like the Garage Band That Shouldn’t Play Too Loud at Microsoft

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Aug 23, 2018
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There was a shift at Xbox a few months ago. Phil Spencer, previously Head of the Xbox division, became the Executive Vice President of Gaming and joined Microsoft’s executive leadership team where he now reports directly to CEO Satya Nadella.

This coincided with a greater emphasis placed for Xbox and gaming as a whole at Microsoft, expressed by Nadella himself in a series of statements such as this one.

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In an interview published hours ago on CNET, Phil Spencer looked back at an earlier time where the Xbox division was seen inside Microsoft as the garage band that shouldn’t play too loud. Now, however, the gloves are off.

The company in almost all the things we do was an enterprise company. We’ve had a couple consumer businesses — gaming is one that Bill started, to his credit. He and Steve originally greenlit Xbox project. The analogy I use with some people is we were like the garage band for a long time. As long as we didn’t play our music too loud, we’re allowed to keep practicing.

And now we’ve moved more into the mainstream. But for that time, when we were the garage band, Bill and Steve were — as long as we’re not messing things up and we continue to make progress, things were good.

Bill’s been incredibly involved in what we’re doing and I still see Steve every so often. He asks how Xbox is doing and how things are going.

And like I said, with Satya leaning in in this area and being incredibly supportive, it’s an awesome opportunity for us.  The vote of confidence that came from the Senior Leadership Team — that gaming is going to be one of the top words in the company — the team really internalize that. And we thought about, what are the resources that Microsoft has? What does it mean for Microsoft to be a leader in the games industry? What role should we play in this industry?

Microsoft is betting on a massive new audience to be soon open to games thanks to cloud and streaming technologies. In fact, rumors from a few weeks ago suggest that the company might be preparing two consoles for the next generation, one of which will be a low-spec machine focused on gaming via the cloud.

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