Phil Spencer on Scorpio, and the Changing Console Landscape

Phil Spencer on Scorpio, and the Changing Console Landscape
 
 

We flew over to Sydney to have a one-on-one chat with head of Xbox, Phil Spencer. We talk at length about Project Scorpio, the changing state of the console landscape, and Microsoft's plans for the future.

How are you finding Sydney?

I’m loving it – I mean look at this weather.

I flew up from Seattle on Saturday, landed on Monday. Still spinning a little bit, but people have been great. We’ve gone to some really nice events – we’re doing our FanFest here, and Xbox Fans in Australia are some of the most passionate, so I’m really glad to be down here for my first time.

I went to the Forza event yesterday. It’s location seemed appropriate, because the game is set in Australia. Did you stop by for that?

I was at the Forza event last night.

Oh, you were?

Yeah, I had to do a couple Microsoft things here, and then I went out to the drag strip. Got to do the drifting – did you do that?

I did – it nearly made me sick.

There’s a lot of stink, a lot of it [laughs].

Yeah I got used to the smell of burnt rubber, it was real weird.

[Laughs] Yeah! And then we did the drag strip with the two cars that the community built, or designed. I thought the event was great. It was really good to see all the fans out there enjoying themselves, and I always get great face-to-face feedback when I’m talking to users of our products. It’s an important part of what we do.

So Microsoft at the start of this generation had a bit of a shaky start, but recently you’ve built up a lot of momentum.

Thanks!

It’s been interesting seeing you guys pivot; less of an emphasis on Kinect, backwards compatibility, the One S, your Play Anywhere initiative. Even the Scorpio – you posit it as the most powerful console on the planet. But with the length until its release being so long – about a year – will that dampen any of that momentum?

That’s a good question. If I rewind all the way back to E3 and the decision we made to talk about both of them – which, you can say is a little crazy.

It was cool though; it was the hardest hitting conference.

But I mean you could imagine going into the planning, and “OK, we’re going to open with the S reveal,” but I think everybody knew we were going to do something like that – we hadn’t shown it. And then closing with the Scorpio – it was a lot of noodling going over whether that was the right plan. We’ll still have to wait until it launches to say “OK, did we do what we said we were going to do.” The gamers are always good at keeping us honest.

I’m really, really happy with the response to S. I think most of the hard questions I got after E3 is “Did you just kill the S?”

Right.

That was the meme – because everybody is just going to wait. But when people finally got their hands on it, and saw what we did with S in terms of the 4K UHD blu-ray, 4K streaming, and the nice form factor – I think people saw what we saw as we were designing both of the products. That this console stands on its own, it’s at a price point -- $499 [for the 500GB model] in New Zealand – and that price point is just different than the Scorpio’s when it comes out, right? There’s a real price-conscious, value-conscious customer who’s going to look at that aspect of your product line, and that’s what they want.

And then there’s some core people who are looking for the best price and performance, and that what’s we designed Scorpio for. I wanted to make sure it was all part of one console, so that if you move from one to the other, or happen to have two, you’re not buying two versions of the games. Your games just work across both. A lot of that learning came from our work with Back Compat, and just the reception we’ve seen over that.

Continue reading on page 2.





 

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Comments Comments (19)

 
Posted by Outlaw213
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 12:11 PM
2
Good interview, I'm interested in how the Scorpio will turn out.
 
 
 
oconnomiyaki
Posted by oconnomiyaki
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 12:28 PM
4
Cool interview. Spencer always comes across as so likable. I'm glad he's in charge of the division now; it's done wonders for not only the quality of the product and the public image as well.

I would have liked to have seen him quizzed on the ratings obstacle when it comes to launching indie games Down Under, especially when he states "The indie community here in Australia and New Zealand is really critical." It's fairly possible that these kinds of issues get drowned out when moving up the food chain and that's why they don't get addressed. I would have liked to have seen if he had any position on it and any possible solution.
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 1:07 PM
3
Great read and good interview. I like Spencer and how he seems to be someone you would like to sit down and have a conversation with. I like how he avoids baiting/diminishing Playstation overall whilst still acknowledging them.
 
 
 
Posted by Tin-Automaton
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 1:16 PM
1
29 September 2016, 01:07 PM Reply to CoffeeAddict
Great read and good interview. I like Spencer and how he seems to be someone you would like to sit down and have a conversation with. I like how he avoids baiting/diminishing Playstation overall whilst still acknowledging them.
he is a /very/ nice dude
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 1:30 PM
1
Great interview.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 1:46 PM
4
Spencer sure is a good face for a company.
 
 
 
Posted by LukeB
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 1:53 PM
1
Awesome interview man. Lots of good Scorpio info there :)
 
 
 
Posted by Bank
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 3:42 PM
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29 September 2016, 01:46 PM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
Spencer sure is a good face for a company.
You sure are nice today my lad.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 4:12 PM
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29 September 2016, 03:42 PM Reply to Bank
You sure are nice today my lad.
Just less thing's for me to complain about :p
 
 
 
Posted by jtbthatsme
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 8:18 PM
1
Great interview he is definitely the right man for the job...better than that other guy they had doing their promo stuff Don Mattrick. That guy is a polar opposite of Phil who has taken Xbox forward a long way (sadly needed it too after DM).

Look forward to more for the Xbox team and certainly look forward to the Scorpio and seeing what it can do.
 
 
 
Posted by Ron
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 8:24 PM
1
Great read, he came across very well and clearly has a good sense of humour.
 
 
 
Posted by ptys
On Thursday 29 Sep 2016 11:14 PM
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The more he discusses forward and backwards compatibility, the more I question where they were when we requested this before the Xbox One was even in development.
 
 
 
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Friday 30 Sep 2016 9:19 AM
3
Im more a Playstation sort of guy, but Phil is easily the best thing that could have happened to Xbox, he certainly makes me like the brand and the direction they are going.
 
 
 
Posted by Nick2016NZ
On Friday 30 Sep 2016 10:19 AM
1
Yeah I agree with everyone here, he really does come across as a nice guy, and honest as well. He seems genuinely passionate about what he does and respects the gaming community at large. If he had of been in charge of Xbox right from the start, I'm positive the Xbox brand would be seen vastly different from some of the negativity it has generated in recent years. Great read.
 
 
 
Posted by D4nzy
On Friday 30 Sep 2016 2:00 PM
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Awesome interview and great read!
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Saturday 1 Oct 2016 6:51 AM
1
30 September 2016, 09:19 AM Reply to SpawnSeekSlay
Im more a Playstation sort of guy, but Phil is easily the best thing that could have happened to Xbox, he certainly makes me like the brand and the direction they are going.
This. After the horrid direction they were taking at the start it really has become more appealing lately.
 
 
 
richitvgamer
Posted by richitvgamer
On Sunday 2 Oct 2016 6:26 AM
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i think he's acting up
 
 
 
Posted by captain X nz
On Sunday 2 Oct 2016 11:55 AM
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"It was cool though; it was the hardest hitting conference." - E3 16? Really Keith?

He is a great face for the brand though, I sat through one of his presentations on Friday and I was convinced, after being a concerned sceptic that he was going through the motions, I came out thinking he was genuinely engaged with the community and open to listen.

He's quite open that they are building a platform to make the most of VR and advances in the future rather than rushing tech out to first adopters like me.
 
 
 
Posted by mchumdinghy
On Saturday 8 Oct 2016 10:36 AM
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It's been funny listening to "N-Zee gamer" cited on some of the big gaming podcasts I have been listening to in reference to this story. You guys are famous :)