Phil Spencer explains why he’s so darn nice

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Phil spencer

Following the departure of Don ‘the Jacket’ Mattrick from Xbox, Phil Spencer took over the role of head honcho and has already turned around perception dramatically in a short period of time. He’s generally seen to be pro-gamer, and incredibly nice to the competition, often congratulating PlayStation boss Shuhei Yoshida on twitter, and opening discussing playing games on a range of platforms. Of course cynical gamers wonder if this is all just a ploy – no one can actually be that nice, right?

Speaking to Gamespot, Spencer was asked what keeps him up at night and if he doesn’t have anything negative to say about his competitors instead of always being so nice, and his answer highlights a key issue in gaming:

I’ve said before, the one thing that I probably find a little distasteful in the discourse around games is the divisiveness that people try to build between platforms. It becomes more about what piece of plastic I own than what games I’m playing. It becomes more about somebody else failing than the things I love succeeding. I don’t think that’s a good place for our industry. I know that’s not everybody, and it’s easy to find the pockets of that vitriol and kind of think that that is gaming, but I’m not going to embrace that. I’m going to actively push against that. People sometimes will make fun of me that I mentioned Sony or I mentioned Nintendo. It’s not to placate anybody or make them think I’m some kind of good guy. My job isn’t really to keep you from buying something else. My job is to make you proud of what we offer, and to give you an enjoyable experience with the product we have. That’s 100% of what I’m focused on.

[…] I don’t know if it’s … nice. One, I know most of these people, and I know they work incredibly hard. I know the studios, I know the people that run those organizations, and I don’t want … It’s not my job to think about how other people can fail. The thing I’ll say about us and Team Xbox and what we’re trying to do is we work for a company in Microsoft that isn’t driven in this space to go dominate anybody or to put somebody else out. The reason Satya’s (Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO) interested in gaming, the reason the Windows 10 focused on the consumer and gaming is so prevalent inside the company right now, is we see opportunity. We see opportunity to delight customers, to give them more reasons to engage with the platform that we have, and it’s really all about the unrealized opportunity that’s in front of us. Then when people bring up, “Well, what about Nintendo? What about Sony? Isn’t it too bad that Sony is selling a lot of PlayStation 4s right now?” I honestly don’t feel that it’s too bad.

I love that we’re selling a lot of Xbox Ones. I love that we’re selling more Xbox Ones than we did 360, and we’re growing year … all the PR stats I can hit you with, and I love that we have more people on Xbox Live than we’ve ever had. That’s probably the thing I’m most focused on is the people that we have on Xbox Live and how happy they are with what they’re doing. I don’t know if that makes me nice. I don’t see any reason to go after and be pithy towards somebody who’s just trying to do a good job with the product that they’re building.

That’s just it – all the companies are working towards making the best possible products that they can. Their visions might vary, and some might get it wrong or right from time to time, but the core idea of delivering awesome gameplay experiences to gamers is still there. It’s only by being cool that they can sell units and make money. Spencer actually sees the value of competition, of recognizing that hard work, and he knows something that I fear far too many people lose sight of: he doesn’t need to make other people look bad to try to make himself look good. That’s just not how perception works, and by consistently being nice, he comes out looking better, too.

Last Updated: September 23, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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