Xbox One Exec Admits PS4 Has "Huge Lead," Not Sure If Microsoft Can Catch Up
"We're not motivated by beating Sony, we're motivated by gaining as many customers as we can."
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Spencer's candid comments came during a panel at the 2015 GeekWire Summit. As reported by Videogamer, when Spencer was asked if he thought the Xbox One could outsell the PS4 this generation, he replied, "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, the games lineup that we have."
The Head of Xbox went on to say that the situation surrounding the Xbox One's launch, marked by dramatic policy reversals and controversial comments from executives who have since left the company, had a negative effect on the platform's ability to have a strong start. In fact, Spencer admitted that Microsoft "fundamentally lost... the trust of our most loyal customers" at this time.
"Whether it's always-on, used games, whatever the feature was, we lost the trust in them that they were at the center 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 people's minds and they looked at anything, whether it was the power of our box, our launch lineup, microtransactions, any of the features that you talked about, what you find is very quickly you lose the benefit of the doubt. You lose your customer's assumption that the reason you're building your product is to delight them and not just build a better and more maybe manipulative product.
"I sit back and I think about an [organization] of thousands of people, you're down in the organization and some words and some actions from executives kinda just trash all the work that you've done over the last three years, many weekends and nights, and you start to question why am I doing this?" he added. "Why am I working so hard when a few crass comments can actually position our product more directly than any work that the team was doing?"
Spencer was promoted to Head of Xbox in March 2014 and at that time, he said "job number one" was to attempt to regain the confidence of the Xbox team by way of being "very forthright" with them. He says he's already seeing a change in the team for the better. Instead of a team "that's questioning the leadership of the organization," he now sees a team "that's motivated by the customers that we have and their ability to delight them."
Spencer added: "I see a team that's making amazing progress. [Backwards compatibility] was one. We didn't know back compat 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 organization, but I'll say we're not motivated by beating Sony, we're motivated by gaining as many customers as we can."
A direct sales comparison between Xbox One and PS4 is tough to nail down. As of June 30, Sony had shipped 25.3 million PS4 consoles worldwide, while the only shipment number Microsoft has ever announced for the Xbox One was 10 million. That figure, however, came back in November 2014.
You can watch the full interview below.