Xbox chief Phil Spencer reflects on 20 years of Xbox

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Over two decades, the unexpected results of some of Xbox’s boldest innovations have prompted Microsoft to break away from its initial “gamer” marketing push toward an inclusive approach to gaming, Xbox boss Phil Spencer tells Nerdshala.

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why it matters: Xbox turns 20 today, offering a moment to reflect on what Microsoft has accomplished within console gaming and where it could go in the next 20 years.

  • Spencer discussed Xbox history — the good and the bad — during a recent video chat with Nerdshala. (It started with Spencer dismissing an incoming call from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “I told him I was doing an interview,” he said.)

Microsoft’s Xbox Journey debuted on November 15, 2001, first with the Xbox, and then with the successful Xbox 360 (2005), Criminal Xbox One (2013), and present well received, but supply-disrupted, Xbox Series consoles (2020).

  • Xbox initially turned heads with games like “Halo,” “Forza” and “Gears of War.” It Used Microsoft’s Battle Chest To Buy The Makers Of “Minecraft” in 2014, And in the past yesR, it acquired all of the famous Bethesda family of studios.
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what is he saying: Spencer gives credit to Microsoft’s online gaming service Xbox Live Along with expanding your team’s vision of who plays the game and helping them understand the barriers to entry.

  • The service for the original Xbox was launched in 2002, several years before rival offerings from console giants Sony and Nintendo.
  • “Live gave us a direct, real-time connection to the community of people playing it,” Spencer said, contrasting it with the model of selling discs to a store and never hearing from the player again.
  • Microsoft learned from Live’s positive and negative feedback: The friendships made by Live users illustrate the potential of an online community; Toxic online chats showed the barriers that kept some people from playing.

Spencer also quoted of xbox largely abandoned Kinect sensors to inspire your team to think more about accessibility issues.

  • kinect launched As an add-on to the Xbox 360 in 2010, it provided a means of controlling the game with body movement and voice, a sort of answer Nintendo’s blockbuster motion-control for the Wii. A second Kinect was included with every early Xbox One.
  • Microsoft took note of feedback from parents of children with physical or mental disabilities who told them that the Kinect had finally enabled their child to play a video game.
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Spencer traces a line From those successes to Microsoft’s current ambition to bring gaming to a larger, more diverse group of people.

  • Microsoft describes the push as an effort to attract about 3 billion potential players, a group Spencer calls by definition “not one gender or race or anything like that.”
  • This is a sharp contrast from the original marketing of the Xbox in 2001, which Spencer acknowledged as “the canonical example of a dull-jawed teenager in his basement with a swearing-in headset on the person at the other end of the line.”
  • He admits that the gamer’s image as a general industry “caricature” was not accurate even then.

there were some big shocks along the way:

  • In 2007, 360’s “Red Ring of Death” manufacturing error cost microsoft More than $1 billion to cover repairs.
  • Another: A disastrous attempt to roll out the One as a TV/gaming hybrid entertainment device in 2013, which led Nadella to gaming-focused Spencer’s to take over all Xboxes. (Nadella’s instruction according to Spencer: “Let’s try to right the ship and then have a meaningful discussion about, ‘Is there a long-term path for Microsoft in gaming or not?’)
  • Spencer, unaffiliated, also mentioned Xbox’s 2016 Game Developers Conference Party, which featured low-dressed female dancers and shouted out to game makers and a apologies from Spencer. “Is there anything I regret in our journey as Xbox? Exactly,” he told Nerdshala.

Microsoft’s biggest Xbox bet ever There are Game Pass and Cloud Gaming. The former is an all-you-can-play Netflix-style subscription service that launched in 2017, which Spencer says is “sustainable” for now.

  • The service offers 100+ games, including all new releases from Microsoft, on launch day, for about $120 a year (the cost of two full-size video games). Microsoft said in January that it has 18 million subscribersHowever, it missed the recent growth target.
  • “I know there are a lot of people who like to write [that] We’re finally burning cash right now for some future pot of gold,” Spencer said. “No. Game Pass is very, very durable right now as it sits. And it just keeps on increasing.”

for cloud gamingOf course, it goes all the way back to that 3 billion player target, as Microsoft moves Xbox gaming away from Xbox.

  • While the all-new Xbox games come to PC as well, the company also offers its Game Pass library on phones via streaming.
  • This leads to a strange inevitability, Spencer says. “At some point in our future, more people are going to be part of the Xbox community on mobile than on any other device, just how many mobile phones are out there.”
  • Noting the Xbox One debacle, he said he doesn’t want to alienate console players, whom he credits for getting Xbox where it is.

what will happen next: “I can’t wait for 20 more years of Xbox,” Spencer said.

  • The question is: if they make it to 2041, what will “Xbox” mean?

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