“My goal, first and foremost, is to make sure that everybody understands that Xbox is a gaming brand and it’s going to be gaming first,” Spencer tells us. “That’s a leadership principle that I will bring to the program from day one. It’s not that it hasn’t been there in the past, but if you put the studio guy at the head, you kinda know what you’re going to get.”
Despite this shift in how Microsoft talks about the Xbox One, the company isn’t abandoning the entertainment side of the console. “If you’re going to be an incredible consumer electronics device in the home today, you’re going to do multiple things,” Spencer says. However, he reiterates that gaming will be at the forefront. “We have always been, since the beginning, all about games at Xbox. I want to make sure that shows up not only internally, but also externally.”
Prior to his promotion, Spencer handled first-party game development as the head of Microsoft Studios. His new position also puts him at the head of third-party relationships. This is in part due to the consolidation of the platform team (formerly headed by Marc Whitten), Spencer’s Microsoft Studios teams, and a leadership group for the brand.
Currently, he’s working on getting up to speed with the different groups now under his leadership. E3, which is only two months away, is a major focus for him, though. He tells us that this year’s press conference will be similar to last year’s, focusing largely on games for the 90 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, there will be new announcements and updates on exclusives, the latter of which Spencer places a great deal of significance. “It’s an incredibly important part of what we do as a platform holder, both for us and for our third-party partners,” he says. “It’s one of the things that makes me so happy about Titanfall, not just that it was on our platform, but to see a studio like Respawn – a brand new studio – have such a great success with their first game.”
Spencer is looking to create more success stories like Titanfall. “We need to win with the gamer,” he says. “[Titanfall is] another great testament to how great content leads to incredible usage and sales. It’s something I want every person on the program to understand, that we’ll be leading with gaming on Xbox One.”
Spencer didn't have many teases today for what Microsoft has on tap for gamers, though he did say this about the Xbox One's expected showing for the year's big gaming show this June: "I'm looking at the E3 line-up and it's incredibly strong both with sequels and new IP, unannounced things.'"
"The Games With Gold program on Xbox 360 has been successful for us," Spencer said. "It’s been part of the value people see in [Xbox Live] Gold, something we recognize that isn’t on Xbox One that isn’t there today. We haven’t announced a plan, but people should understand that we understand the expectation that people have around what the value on Xbox One Gold should be. It might not look exactly the way things have looked in the past, but the recognition that that form of content and that perk for being a Gold subscriber is important to people, something we definitely hear."
"We’ve had feedback from people around how they would like multiple parts of the program to work," Spencer began. "I think we’ve tried to respond to the feedback that we’ve received. We can’t always do exactly what people want for many different reasons, but we try to be open in terms of what we’re thinking about. So feedback to Xbox 360’s Games With Gold is being heard as we think about any future plans we might announce. The feedback loop is definitely active and we want to make sure we’re trying to match what customers want."
"I’m honored to be chosen for this position, but you know what you get when you pick me, which is we’re going to lead this platform from a gaming point of view," Spencer said.
"I want to make sure everything we have on the roadmap going forward makes us the best place for gamers."
"I see the conversation focusing more on the games: what new IP we are investing in, what's going on in Japan, what are we doing with Halo," Spencer said. "It's my job to make sure the best content shows up there... maybe a mix of things we're bringing back from the past, like Killer Instinct, which was very successful, as well as new IPs, likeQuantum Break, Sunset Overdrive and other things we haven't announced yet.
I'm already a fan of this dude and what he is trying to do. Seems like he might restore Xbox to its former glory.
Oh, as for where the quotes come from: these come from three separate interviews that I have collated into one thread (and I will continue to update this thread with more interviews as they come). The links to these are: