Phil Spencer admitted during a panel at the 2015 GeekWire Summit. When he was asked if Microsoft could beat Sony this generation. Spencer responded to the question with “You know, I don’t know. You know, the length of the generation… They (Sony) have a huge lead, and they have a good product. I love the content, and the games line-up that we have.”
Phil has been helping the team at Redmond to regain confidence, and that’s apparently been number one when Spencer took over the role as Head of Xbox last April, he adds, “and being very forthright with them about where we were, and our ability to do things like beat Sony was critical. What I’ve seen in the 18 months that I’ve been in the role is the team getting more work done in a day than I would expect.
“Every time I sit down and do a product review, mostly every time, the team comes in with surprise, and delight around the momentum that they have, more than I’m able to add, and when I see that transformation of a team that’s questioning the leadership of the organization to a team that’s motivated by the customers that we have, and their ability to delight them. I see a team that’s making amazing progress. Backward Compatibility was one. We didn’t know it would work. We started it. A few ninja engineers went off, and figured it out, how do you go from PowerPC to x86, and translate game code that’s about as time-critical as any piece of code that you would want in terms of its performance, and they got it done. So I would never question the ability of our organisation, but I’ll say we were not motivated by beating Sony, we are motivated by gaining as many customers as we can.”
Spencer had said that he felt Microsoft had “fundamentally lost… the trust of our most loyal customers” around the time of the Xbox One’s launch.
“Whether it’s always-on, used games, whatever the feature was, we lost the trust in them that they were at the centre of our decision- making process,”he said. ” Were we building a product for us, or were we building a product for the gamers? And as soon as that question came into the people’s minds, and they looked at anything, if it was the power of our box, our launch line-up microtransactions, any of the features that you talked about. What you find is that you lose the benifit of the doubt. You lose the customers assumption that the reason you’re building the product is to delight them, and not just build a better and more manipulative product.
“And that really set with me going through the launch and just watching the reaction, as you said the most loyal fans, people that had Xbox tattooed on their arm. And them coming to us almost in tears because they felt like the direction we were going with the product didn’t include them. Have we recovered? I feel really good about the position and the product and the brand right now, but I was at the Gamestop Manager’s Meeting about three weeks ago and I’m sitting with 5,000 Gamestop managers in Las Vegas and they’d come up and they still have customers that walk in the store that think that the Xbox One won’t play used games. Just to be clear, Xbox One has always played used games from day one. But that perception that gets set early on, because consumers have five seconds to internalise your brand and your message and then they move on. They’re not going to spend time to read what we say afterwards. ‘Oh Xbox One, that’s that thing. If I want it I’ll go buy it and if I don’t I won’t.’ Regaining that trust and the mindshare with the customer, the gamer, is incredibly difficult.”
Xbox/Microsoft faced extreme criticism from fans in the run up to the Xbox One’s launch in 2013. Forcing them to reverse their decisions on online requirements, and the restrictions on pre-owned games. They later dropped the kinect completely as its not available to purchase now as you need to go second hand to get one. No plan from Microsoft as to what they will do with the Kinect 2.0.
Xbox hasn’t officially updated the consoles sales figures in almost a year, when it revealed last Novemeber that the console had shipped almost 10 million units. Sony, has announced July of this year that it had sold 25.3 million units worldwide.
If you’d like to see the whole interview with Phil Spencer check it out below.