Phil Spencer Takes Over as Head of Xbox Division

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#51 Edited by TrafalgarLaw (1130 posts) -
@ericsmith said:

@sergio said:
@zombie2011 said:

@viking_funeral said:

Some are already calling the generation for Sony. It's way to early for that, but I'm really curious what Microsoft's plan is to recover lost ground.

Without competition, Sony could easily revert to the mentality that they dominate the market and dictate the rules.

Far from over, Sony as a company is crumbling. While MS is killing it, their stock hit 14 year highs today. The market hasn't been this bullish on MS since the tech bubble of '99.

MS still has the 4th largest R&D budget in the world. What i'm trying to say is MS has the capital to spend for exclusives, while Sony can't. The longer this generation goes the more we will see the overall companies outlook change the gaming space.

Buying exclusives instead of making exclusives is terrible for consumers.

Can you explain this to me? It doesn't make any sense on my end.

Because instead of investing money to build a new studio from the ground up, you pay existing studios to not release on competitors platforms. The former is a long-term investment into gaming, the latter a short-term solution in which you pull the rug over your customer's eyes into thinking you invest in gaming. The former gets you new games, the latter only makes fanbases smaller.

#52 Posted by leebmx (2245 posts) -

Nice T-Shirt..

#53 Posted by EricSmith (326 posts) -

@ericsmith said:

@sergio said:
@zombie2011 said:

@viking_funeral said:

Some are already calling the generation for Sony. It's way to early for that, but I'm really curious what Microsoft's plan is to recover lost ground.

Without competition, Sony could easily revert to the mentality that they dominate the market and dictate the rules.

Far from over, Sony as a company is crumbling. While MS is killing it, their stock hit 14 year highs today. The market hasn't been this bullish on MS since the tech bubble of '99.

MS still has the 4th largest R&D budget in the world. What i'm trying to say is MS has the capital to spend for exclusives, while Sony can't. The longer this generation goes the more we will see the overall companies outlook change the gaming space.

Buying exclusives instead of making exclusives is terrible for consumers.

Can you explain this to me? It doesn't make any sense on my end.

Because instead of investing money to build a new studio from the ground up, you pay existing studios to not release on competitors platforms. The former is a long-term investment into gaming, the latter a short-term solution in which you pull the rug over your customer's eyes into thinking you invest in gaming. The former gets you new games, the latter only makes fanbases smaller.

Not really. Most of the time, the way an exclusive is developed for a first party by a third party starts from the other end. Either A) The publisher (in this case Microsoft) is shopping a game around to studios to build the game. They give the studio money to make the game, and they make it. Or B) The third party studio has an idea for a game, and they are shopping it to publishers. Microsoft sees their pitch, and decides to fund the game thinking it will be a good property to own.

Building dozens of internal studios is what Sony did through the early to mid 2000s, and that is why they have been slowly cutting teams for the last three years. Same with EA and Activision. The business is no longer in a place where it makes sense to build a bunch of internal studios. So instead of creating a team of 100 people (conservatively) and nurturing their growth for six months to a year, you use a third party studio.

It is rare now for a platform holder to come in at the 11th hour and pick up the exclusive rights to a big budget "AAA" game. You can count the number of times on one hand that has happened in the last few years. Even Titanfall 2 is probably going to be coming to the PS4 unless Microsoft swoops in and drops a shitload of money at the feet of Respawn (and to a certain extent, EA). The only reason that game is Xbone exclusive is because they are a team of 60 people and simply did not have the manpower to focus on both new consoles. And considering the framerate on the Xbox version is rickety as fuck, I'm glad they didn't.

In short, you were right a decade ago, but that philosophy of game development is gone.

#54 Edited by gbrading (2037 posts) -

Darn, I had my money on Phil Harrison. I suppose that would be a demotion for Harrison.

I don't remember if this is THE Phil Spencer or A Phil Spencer.

#55 Posted by froggeh (24 posts) -

@meatball said:

I've always gotten a kind of douchey vibe from Phil Spencer to be honest, but he does seem like the best man for the job.

Yeah. Every time this guy talks, the faces he makes, I just want to smack him.

#56 Posted by Vuud (2000 posts) -

They should have tapped Phil Spector. Sure some people may get shot in the process but he gets results.

Online
#57 Posted by PompousDawson (77 posts) -

This gives me faith the Xbox brand and games division are in good hands now.

#58 Edited by rand0mZer00 (241 posts) -

Cool.

#59 Posted by CircleNine (381 posts) -

How much of a position to change things is he really, and how much of the focus as being a General Media Consumption Device has locked it into contracts with providers for promotional considerations and such?

#60 Edited by jasondesante (604 posts) -

"left Microsoft for Zynga" seems even more unreal now than it did when it happened. Zynga really? And people still treat Microsoft with respect and people still buy the xbone. Microsoft execs feel right at home at Zynga for a reason. They're long lost cousins!

If Phil Spencer doesn't bring Halo and Gears to PC then theres nothing to be excited about. Anything exclusive to Xbox is a loss to gaming as a whole.

#62 Posted by BIGJEFFREY (5055 posts) -
Online
#63 Edited by Dinosaurs (36 posts) -

Yo Phil, Phantom Dust. Make it happen.

#64 Posted by crithon (3277 posts) -

Microsoft is an odd company, you have guys who talk out loud about wanting to cut out XBox division and focus on Office.

#65 Posted by Zereta (1368 posts) -

Microsoft is doing fine but they still need a win. This was that win.

#66 Posted by zombie2011 (4973 posts) -

@crithon said:

Microsoft is an odd company, you have guys who talk out loud about wanting to cut out XBox division and focus on Office.

whats so weird about that? That is what companies do, it's called re-structuring. Sony sold their PC division to focus on their TV line.

#67 Posted by heatDrive88 (2339 posts) -

I'm sure Phil Spencer is a nice guy and it's a good fit and all, but holy fuck I get weirded out by his smug smile when he's on stage.

#68 Posted by Sergio (2131 posts) -

@ericsmith: What you're talking about is second-party development, and I have no problem with that. In that scenario, Microsoft would actually be going out there and funding the development of a game. In this case, the game would often not come about without that console manufacturer. It's like Bayonetta 2. That game would not exist if Nintendo hadn't come in to fund it, so that now makes it exclusive to the Wii U.

Microsoft didn't approach Respawn and ask them to make a game for them with their funding. What happened was that Respawn had an idea for a game and approached EA to help fund and publish it. Yes, given their size, they could only develop it initially for PC and Xbox One. They could have then ported it over to PS4 once they were done and some resources were freed up, but that didn't happen. Microsoft purchased the rights for that game from EA.

If a developer approached Microsoft directly about publishing their game, there wouldn't be a problem there either. It's when a game that could come to all platforms is purposely stopped in order to get a competitive advantage for one console that consumers are hurt. If you've only bought into Xbox One, you probably don't care, because it's coming out for your platform. If you only have a PS4, you're losing out on a game that would have been released on your platform. And if you have both consoles, you're being deprived of a potentially superior version.

#69 Posted by EricSmith (326 posts) -

@sergio: No. Second party is a studio that has only ever developed for one platform holder, despite remaining outside the umbrella.

I don't want to sound like an ass, but it is inevitable with this statement: I understand the development of games pretty well, as it is my job to know this stuff.

#70 Edited by arcn (125 posts) -

@heatdrive88: Yeah he always makes me feel like they made him spend way too much time at whatever corporate reeducation center Microsoft sends these guys to.

#71 Posted by csl316 (8705 posts) -

@arcn said:

@heatdrive88: Yeah he always makes me feel like they made him spend way too much time at whatever corporate reeducation center Microsoft sends these guys to.

Yep.

I wish the guy well, but first party Xbox stuff really let me down towards the end of last-gen after a solid start. I don't have faith, but with Mattrick gone maybe they'll let up on Kinect a bit.

#72 Posted by Vigorousjammer (2504 posts) -

This is great news!
Seems like the perfect guy for the job! :)

#73 Posted by Sergio (2131 posts) -

@ericsmith: It really doesn't matter if it's your job to know this stuff, since you're wrong.

Second-party developer is a colloquial term used by gaming enthusiasts and media often used to describe two different types of game development studios:

  1. Independently-owned studios who take development contracts from the platform holders and what they produce will usually be exclusive to that platform.
  2. Studios who are partially or wholly owned by the platform holder (also known as a subsidiary) and what they produce will usually be exclusive to that platform.

In reality, the resulting game is first party (since it is funded by the platform holder who usually owns the resulting IP), but the term helps to distinguish independent studios from those directly owned by the platform holder. These studios may have exclusive publishing agreements (or other business relationships) with the platform holder, while maintaining independence. Examples are Insomniac Games (which previously developed games solely for Sony's PlayStation platforms as an independent studio) and Game Freak, (which primarily develops the Nintendo-exclusive Pokémon game series).

If Microsoft is shopping around for someone, they most likely own the IP. The developer is a second-party developer for that game, even if they're an independent studio that usually develops third-party games for multiple platforms.

#74 Posted by ajamafalous (12004 posts) -

I've always found Phil Spencer to be too robotic on stage, though you could say that for pretty much any Microsoft employee on stage at this point. If Microsoft can be a bit more human, and not in the "It's all good!" Xbox One way, I may be more interested in watching these high up employees speak during press conferences.

This is how I've always felt as well. Never liked the dude because his press conference persona just comes off as smarmy/weasely.

#75 Posted by Hailinel (24877 posts) -

I'm sure Phil Spencer is a nice guy and it's a good fit and all, but holy fuck I get weirded out by his smug smile when he's on stage.

The man does not exactly exude a positive stage presence, no. But honestly, I don't think Microsoft has had anyone that's been able to channel charisma for their Xbox presentations particularly well since Allard left Xbox to work on the Zune (and even then, Allard was arguably a flash in the pan). Spencer might be the right choice for Xbox leadership, but they could use a better public face.

Online
#76 Posted by blurienh (120 posts) -

I don't like the guy based on his changing his t-shirt every time he came out on stage at the Xbox one reveal, irrational and stupid I know but hey ho.

#77 Posted by Garviell (52 posts) -

Sports, sports sports sports sports, sports
New T-shirt
tv tv sports!

#78 Edited by guanophobic (307 posts) -

Two pages down, and no one's asked what he's actually done at Microsoft Game Studios?

What have I missed?

I see him credited under "thanks" on a lot of last-gen titles, what else?

What makes him such a good choice?

#81 Posted by xyzygy (9999 posts) -

I'm surprised at how the majority of this thread is positive. Very different for a Microsoft news article.

#82 Posted by Nashvilleskyline (203 posts) -
#83 Posted by midnightgreen20 (64 posts) -

Sergio is right. Titanfall was in development for quite some time as a game on its own. They got EA to publish but it wasn't some time until closer to the end of development that Microsoft came in and decided to buy the rights of the IP as an exclusive. It's important to know that the game was in development BEFORE Microsoft came in, and will continue to on whether or not they remain an exclusive. What we're hearing now is whether or not the next game will be exclusive or not. If this were a true 2nd party title, that discussion wouldn't even be taking place as Microsoft would've offered a contract of several games to keep it exclusive, rather than pay to keep it from Sony. It's the same deal they had with COD, as they forked over money each time to get the earlier release of DLC on the 360.

#84 Posted by Craig_Duda (10 posts) -

Reminds me of how excited Nintendo fans were about Reggie. Saying the things that fans want to hear isn't enough, though. Let's see how he actually does at his JOB.

#86 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2777 posts) -

Hey, I don't live in Washington and I've never been on the Microsoft campus, but have they been infected with the 'Silicon Valley syndrome' where everyone must look under 40 and wear a tee shirt under a suit jacket too?

I was listening to NPR last week and they had a programs that was talking about Silicon Valley's ageism. The author of the pieces talked to a cosmetic surgeon in San Francisco, Dr. Seth Matarasso, who by his own calculation, is the second-largest dispenser of Botox in the world. His clientele is varied but there is a very large tech industry component to it...most of it male.

Let's be honest, Phil Spencer, wears a button down shirt to work. He's not riding a long board skateboard around Microsoft. He's not gonna fist-bump you - I should fracking hope. So, could the PR people just dispense with the "Hey, I get you my man...I'm like you dude!" imagery? Because it is bullshit to show him like some sort of douche-bag wearing a tee shirt and a suit jacket. They hired him to do a job, its cool that he will focus more on games and gamers, but just put out the image of him in his damn oxford shirt.

Phil, why dont'ch get behind your desk; ask your secretory to ask her assistant to get you a damn cappuccino; and get to work...please.



#87 Posted by ike7779 (320 posts) -

... to oversee the sale of the division to Amazon so their new console can be launched in time to compete with Faceboxulous Rift.

#89 Posted by Corvak (1086 posts) -

The problem with Titanfall is, as a largely multiplayer IP the property itself doesn't have huge value. They don't hold exclusive rights to "FPS games where you pilot mechs" and unlike Halo or Gears of War, the universe of Titanfall doesn't really pull me in.

So Titanfall is a great game, but if someone designed another game in the same vein with a new universe, I wouldn't feel any ties to Titanfall when a sequel rolls around. I would be surprised if someone wasn't designing one already.

The one thing Phil really needs to do, is take some control over press conferences. Microsoft's show has been dictated and choreographed by their marketing department for years, which is why it always feels like the guy on stage is just reading off a script into the mic. They could've picked anyone to read off their list of announcements and it wouldnt change much. The only presentation thats been really great in recent years, is when they got Trey and Matt to come out and present the Stick of Truth, because they let them tell a few jokes.

Reggie and Iwata brought their own charisma and style to the Nintendo shows. Sony has done the same to a lesser degree. Even bringing in Kevin Butler, they got someone who has personality on stage - and of course last year Jack Tretton stole the show.

#90 Posted by sdharrison (476 posts) -

Am I the only one that doesn't think it makes a difference how smooth and well presented their press conferences are? Christ the circle jerk going on here about the Xbox one is bizarre. There are no rabbits to pull out of hats, no big reveals. They can monkey with the price, use the word "games" more often and buy up some more IP but it doesn't change the fact that Microsoft brought a deeply flawed product to market.

The XBox One is a reflection of the strategy going on in Microsoft when it was conceived. Regardless of the figurehead in charge now, they're still going to have to work within the confines of that black box. It's going to be a long hard road back to respectability, and who knows if the higher ups at Microsoft are prepared to go through that. This was supposed to be the culmination of their trojan horse all in one plan, not another 5 years of clawing market share.

With Amazon getting set to take more lunch money, this is as brutal a landscape as I've ever seen for a high priced, underpowered, peripheral focused set top box. My advice to Spencer? Double down on TV and figure out a way to make it work with DVR. Maximize the strengths of your product and don't hold the industry back or hostage IPs.

#91 Posted by Nashvilleskyline (203 posts) -

@sdharrison: would you have said the same thing about the ps3 7 years ago? (high priced, underpowered, deeply flawed product)

Cause to me, and most people I would say, those words could have been used to describe the console and yet, for the last 2 years, I would have recommended a PS3 over an Xbox 360. And I prefer MS to Sony overall...

#92 Posted by TrafalgarLaw (1130 posts) -

@sdharrison: would you have said the same thing about the ps3 7 years ago? (high priced, underpowered, deeply flawed product)

Cause to me, and most people I would say, those words could have been used to describe the console and yet, for the last 2 years, I would have recommended a PS3 over an Xbox 360. And I prefer MS to Sony overall...

Sony had the crazy amount of 1st party and 2nd party studios going in from Ps2 to Ps3. Microsoft repurposed a lot their of PC-centric devs to make xbox games...only to sack a lot of them. Never forget; Digital avil, ensemble studios etc.

Microsoft lost Bungie, lost Oddworld Inhabitants, lost Johnathan Blowe, lost the support of Epic Games, gained the washed up Crytek, gained the studio in turmoil Insomniac and the universally hated 343i. Pretty bad trade to me. Microsoft relied too much on 3rd party this gen, now they have fuck all, a machine performing worse in multiplats and a lagging behind indie support.

#93 Edited by sdharrison (476 posts) -

@nashvilleskyline said:

@sdharrison: would you have said the same thing about the ps3 7 years ago? (high priced, underpowered, deeply flawed product)

Cause to me, and most people I would say, those words could have been used to describe the console and yet, for the last 2 years, I would have recommended a PS3 over an Xbox 360. And I prefer MS to Sony overall...

I had another response written out, but in retrospect I think this is the more relevant point:

Sonys ability over the previous decade to recover from a rocky console launch is not an excuse or justification for the the shortcomings of the Xbox One, nor is it a roadmap for recovery.

The landscape of consumer tastes, gaming, technology, and media has changed so radically since that time that you might as well still be talking about SNES and Genesis.

We are in a new and unique market landscape.

#94 Edited by EXTomar (4745 posts) -

"Double down on TV" is not a good idea. At this stage who knows if we can even record let alone bother. If all produced programs are available to stream at any time after release off the Internet, do you need a DVR? That leave sports as the last refuge of TV which is fine but as the tech moves on it becomes the same issue: Why do you need to record the game if the game is going to be available to watch for years with just a search and a click?

The TV as a device that sits in a living room that displays stuff is not going away. The TV as a thing you watch stuff from channels might be going away. Making a game console that uses that as a major feature maybe pretty foolish. I certainly wouldn't make it a requirement that you have to plug in HDMI to do it since a lot of programming is no longer coming from that interface.

Forget "double down on TV" Microsoft. Can we get Netflix and Amazon Prime unencumbered first?

#95 Edited by sdharrison (476 posts) -

@extomar said:

"Double down on TV" is not a good idea. At this stage who knows if we can even record let alone bother. If all produced programs are available to stream at any time after release off the Internet, do you need a DVR? That leave sports as the last refuge of TV which is fine but as the tech moves on it becomes the same issue: Why do you need to record the game if the game is going to be available to watch for years with just a search and a click?

The TV as a device that sits in a living room that displays stuff is not going away. The TV as a thing you watch stuff from channels might be going away. Making a game console that uses that as a major feature maybe pretty foolish. I certainly wouldn't make it a requirement that you have to plug in HDMI to do it since a lot of programming is no longer coming from that interface.

Forget "double down on TV" Microsoft. Can we get Netflix and Amazon Prime unencumbered first?

I don't disagree - it comes down to the central premise that the Xbox One is deeply, deeply flawed from a fundamental design standpoint. There's no talking that can change that. The only things that Microsoft has to leverage are the Fitness app, and being a weird frankenstein cable box. Even that remains just a glorified guide skin that still requires an ACTUAL cable box and still doesn't even have the ability to port the DVR function through. The bummer for me as a gamer is I feel like the Xbox initiative is going to really start hamstringing design and marketing choices developers will have to make going forward.

My question to Spencer would be: "So you went to battle with Sony and scraped together a respectable US marketshare by taking losses and and forcing your foot in the door. You got a seat at the table. Is this what your grand master plan was? This is all we get?"

From my seat, the Wii U does more interesting things that effect my life. Having a PS4 and Vita has allowed me more freedom in how/where I play games. Those are both fresh, new experiences. The XBox One came empty handed, but still wants to ransom games behind an expensive, poorly conceived system. The sad thing is, they have the funding and apparent desire to continue making it happen at the expense of the industry.

Does anyone in their right mind really think this console is remotely futureproof? This will NOT be around 6 years.

#96 Posted by Nashvilleskyline (203 posts) -

@sdharrison: I couldn't agree more. A much more diversified and flourishing industry indeed. An industry, by the way, no longer bound and defined by it's graphical prowess.

#97 Posted by sdharrison (476 posts) -

@sdharrison: I couldn't agree more. A much more diversified and flourishing industry indeed. An industry, by the way, no longer bound and defined by it's graphical prowess.

This is one of the tacit defenses of the Xbox One that bothers me the most. They make an underpowered system, and then I'm supposed to move the goalposts back to accommodate one companies product? It doesn't work that way, and it isn't an "either or" proposition. As a consumer I want clever smaller titles, but also blown out AAA boundary pushing madness. A console exists as a simpler and cheaper PC alternative to let you dip into all kinds of games. They focused on peripherals and television functionality.

We didn't just all sign on to the narrative that graphics don't matter anymore. Everything matters

#98 Edited by MonkeyKing1969 (2777 posts) -

I think the Xbox One is what Microsoft envisioned 8 years ago, or maybe someone there envisioned 18 years ago.

But that's the thing, today we have the 'cut the cord' movement where people are getting rid of cable. Today the idea isn't record shows on your own DVR or use you device like a channel selector, but rather stream the shows you want...even old shows and movies from Netflix, Amazon Prime, or dozens of other specialized providers like Crunchyroll or WWE Network. Today, having YouTube access is somewhat old school when what people increasingly want is Twitch or Ustream access for their own broadcasts. The supplementary data they wanted to offer to shows seems like a distraction more than anything else, and I think a more through real world test of how people would use 'Snap To' would have shown that people find losing that side of their screen an annoyance.

I think Microsoft tied itself to a plan that while still on the edge of interesting but will have a very short shelf life because this should have been on the shelf 8 years ago. I do wonder if in some dusty file for Xbox 360 there was an memo that said, "Hey put another CPU in there to run the interface and give it more RAM just for the dash". They might not have envisioned 'Snap To' eight years ago, but I do think they knew the interface would change and XBL would expand. I can imagine that if they tested a 'Snap To' function on 360 in 2010 they woudl have said, "Meh, no, let not do this."

Sony while being less dramatic, is at least seemingly pursing a future vision and new market - streaming games. Sony's vision is mostly, "Hey those PC games look pretty hot, so we can nearly match that look now." Sony I think isn't so much gunning for Valve Steam, but just admitting things might swing that way in the next five years and they are ready to be in that ring.

I think in the next year Microsoft will start following Sony PS Now, EA-Origin, ValveSteam. What they will do is get focused on games and start cobbling together what they need for end-user streaming and downloading content. That may seem less dramatic and visionary, but it is a more realistic vision of the near future instead of replicating a 1990s vision of 2015.

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