…Same as the old boss? Let’s hope not for Xbox One fans and game fans in general. After just under a year of monumental missteps regarding the Xbox brand and direction, Microsoft has seemingly done something right.
After touting everything the Xbox One would be capable of, other than games that is, Microsoft has named Phil Spencer the new head of Xbox, who formerly was the Corporate VP of Microsoft Game Studios.
Known around the industry as a long time gamer, it’s rather refreshing to see someone who’s passionate about gaming, being the head of a gaming division, and not just some marketing flack who wants to position the Xbox One as a glorified Texas Instruments cable set-top box.
I’M LOOKING AT YOU!
Time will tell if Spencer can right the ship after a shaky launch. Will he be able to surpass the PS4? I personally doubt it, but he can at least get the brand competitive, which I think everyone would all agree is better for the industry.
Everything he has said so far should resonate with gamers in general and Xbox One owners in particular. He believes that “…gaming is a first class citizen within the company.” I certainly hope so, because if he truly believes it isn’t, then he’s in trouble. As Spencer puts it, “you’re going to get a gaming led platform.”
Just recently, on April 3, various sites have reported that quite a few layoffs have occurred within the Xbox division. A corporate restructuring, that has impacted various positions apparently. Microsoft has been relatively mum on what positions have been eliminated, but a representative was quoted by VG247.com that “we are always evaluating our development priorities, and there are times when decisions need to be made to realign plans and refocus our efforts.”
That sucks for those who have lost jobs. I’ve been there before. I can translate that quote for you thusly, “Some overpaid asshole with an MBA misread the market, and our marketing was woefully shitty because of it, so we’re firing a bunch of people, who, of no fault of their own, were working on projects that are now redundant.”
I’M STILL LOOKING AT YOU!
I would think, given Spencer’s quote that many people who were let go were most likely working on some of the TV and media functionality of the Xbox One, as it appears that Spencer wants to focus on games as a priority, much like Sony is doing with the PS4. This is just pure speculation on my part, but it seems logical. Then again, as someone who was a drone at various large companies, logic is not something that you encounter very often when executives are making decisions.
In a recent internal interview with Xbox mouthpiece Larry Hyrb (aka Major Nelson), Spencer, quite refreshingly states that “I learn a lot from listening to feedback, reading ideas. The two-way dialogue will be important as we drive this product forward, I think it will be a foundational element.”
Well as a long time gamer and an Xbox fan, allow me to reiterate a concern that we core gamers have with where the brand is going, and offer some advice. Stop sucking, concentrate on games and stop talking about TV for fucks sake.
I reckon that we will have to wait until E3 to see what direction the brand is really going. Even then, with E3 just around the corner, there may not be enough time for Spencer to make an impact yet, but it is possible. If he walks out onto the stage, and the first things that comes out of his mouth is TV, and media functionality, well folks, come meet the new boss, same as the old boss.