The Metro Takes on Microsoft's Phil Spencer

By Keza MacDonald on at

The Metro has a long interview with Microsoft's Xbox boss Phil Spencer, and it doesn't pull any punches about the interviewer's attitude to Microsoft's last year or so. The following question really stood out. You can read the whole thing here.

GC: There’s a theory I suggested to a Sony exec once, I don’t think you’d know him as he’s only Europe, about the arrogance sine wave of console manufacturers. Where you’re all caught in this endless pattern of starting out at the bottom, trying to do your best to appeal to core gamers, then as you get more and more successful you begin to feel you need the core less and less. And then you peak, and you start to reject them and you try and pursue other demographics, but that never works and so you carry on back down the curve until you have to climb back up by courting the core once again. I’d suggest Nintendo is just starting back up at the moment, Sony I think is probably about midway, but – if you accept my premise – where would you say Microsoft is?

Spencer: Well, so my background in Xbox is head of first party studios and then two months ago I was made head of Xbox all-up. So I come from the game… the content development background and when I think about how games are developed, games are developed with a keen insight in the kind of feedback loop with how people are gonna play. Usually we’ve been bringing gamers in to play the games before they’re finished. We have alphas, we have betas, this is kind of the rhythm that we’re in, in terms of building games. And for me in my new role as head of Xbox, I’m gonna run Xbox the same way.

I’m gonna run Xbox connected to who our customers are and I want them to have a voice in how this product evolves. We also have a rhythm now of doing monthly updates to the box, so every month we’re adding features, fixing things, listening to customers and making changes. The style on how we show up… I am who I am and I’m not claiming to be the most charismatic executive or… I dunno, I’m a product development games guy. That’s what I do. So when I stand on stage I’m probably gonna show up that way, both the positive and the negative of that.

For the platform and Xbox all-up I wanna make sure the team understands who our core customers are, and that’s someone who wants to play games on their television. And I want to make sure our box resonates with that customers base. I think we have to listen to them, we have to build a product for them, we have to listen to the feedback – if they tell me I’m an idiot because I didn’t do X, Y, or Z you’ve got to take that just as much as, ‘Hey, you had a great E3 press briefing’. You can’t just listen to one side of it. And I want that to be a core principle of how the programme’s run in a world of success or a world of struggle, either one. It’s core to me.