Phil Spencer Reflects On The Xbox One Reveal: “An Event That Was Very Much Focused On Xbox As A TV Platform”


At E3 2019, the present head of Xbox Phil Spencer spoke with GameSpot concerning the historical past of the Xbox One, the troubles the console confronted at launch, and what’s in retailer for the way forward for next-gen. Though there’s loads of anticipation for what’s to come back with Xbox Scarlett, our dialogue went again to the start of the Xbox One, Microsoft’s reply to Sony’s PlayStation 4. Back in 2013, on-line gameplay, connectivity, and the cloud was poised to see unprecedented development within the next-gen–and Microsoft wished to be on the forefront of the brand new console expertise. However, the platform maker initially struggled to convey what the brand new console stood for, and it is one thing that the present head of Xbox remembers all too effectively.

“If you go back and watch [the reveal], what you’ll see is an event that was very much focused on Xbox as a TV platform,” Spencer mentioned. “We showed things like The Price is Right, for instance. In fact, I think the first piece of content that we ever showed on an Xbox One was a TV show.”

In May 2013, Microsoft revealed the Xbox One, a console marketed as the brand new nexus for dwelling leisure. Before the reveal, Microsoft and their new product–codenamed Durango–already confronted one thing of an uphill battle. In the months earlier than, the backlash from feedback from former Microsoft government Adam Orth, who downplayed issues from shoppers concerning the subsequent console doubtlessly being on-line solely, was nonetheless contemporary on the minds of many. So entering into, Microsoft had some floor to cowl. Taking place in Redmond, Washington on the Microsoft campus, this event–also possessing a codename, Newcastle–was meant to be the console’s massive second. But as historical past reveals, issues did not work out as supposed. Spencer went on to explain the temper following the occasion, and the way staff weren’t glad with what they noticed.

“If you were an employee in team Xbox, then you were [a part of a team of] thousands of people that work on the Xbox. But there’s like a handful of people that stand in front of cameras, on the stage and talk about things. There can be a divide between, ‘Why is that person saying that? That’s not the product I’m building,’ or, ‘Why are we doing that? That’s not what I think we should be doing.'”

As the console’s first exhibiting, it was a closely promoted occasion. In the opening montage, builders and gaming personalities alike talked concerning the potential of the brand new platform, and even movie administrators like Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams heaped reward on the brand new {hardware}. The key takeaway from the reveal occasion was that the Xbox One was offered as greater than only a videogame console, however somewhat, a brand new dwelling leisure expertise. This sentiment was made abundantly clear through the first half of the occasion, which handled viewers to a deluge of movies and TV reveals viewable on the Xbox One. The first video games to make an look on the exhibiting can be titles from EA Sports, effectively after 30 minutes had handed. Spencer burdened in our interview that the reveal missed the mark in correctly exhibiting what the console was all about.

The suggestions we acquired from the staff, possibly mentioned and unsaid, was, ‘We’ve been working actually onerous for 2 years to ship this product. You stand on stage at this occasion and blow up all the nice work that we have accomplished by speaking concerning the product in a manner that is not likely matching what the soul of an Xbox console is about and what our clients are searching for from us.’

At the time, he was the VP of Microsoft Studios, which entailed overseeing upcoming platform-exclusive video games. Once he took the stage on the occasion, it marked the start of the video games a part of the presentation. During his discuss, the occasion showcased upcoming video games like Forza Motorsport 5, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Halo 5, and Remedy’s Quantum Break–which additionally had a concentrate on the TV angle. Though Spencer understood the intention of showcasing the brand new Xbox as a house leisure console, he expressed that it solely led to confusion and frustration from the overall viewers. This sentiment was evident when he and different executives at Xbox noticed the reactions from shoppers and their staff.

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“The feedback we got from the employees, maybe said and unsaid, was, ‘We’ve been working really hard for two years to ship this product. You stand on stage at this event and blow up all the good work that we’ve done by talking about the product in a way that’s not really matching what the soul of an Xbox console is about and what our customers are looking for from us,'” Spencer mentioned whereas describing the frustration from staff. “I think the team just gets disappointed because they feel let down by the leadership team and I’d say that’s the feeling I heard the most from the team. I had people come up emotional, like they’re reading the forums and people are accusing us of being dishonest with them or having bad intent with why we were building the product that we were, and if you’re a member of the team, you don’t necessarily see across everything that’s going on.”

The reactions from the reveal occasion prompted administration to pivot away from the house leisure angle and concentrate on video games for E3 2013. The sport that opened the present was Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s former president of Interactive Entertainment Business, would even state that E3 2013 was “all about the games.” Throughout its first 12 months, the Xbox One struggled with its messaging, specifically to the idea of always-online performance. In the next 12 months, Phil Spencer was promoted to the pinnacle of Xbox, which marked the start of some vital modifications for the platform. This included the controversial resolution to drop Kinect from the console, thereby promoting the Xbox One at a lower cost.

More Exclusive Phil Spencer Coverage

Throughout our interviews, the pinnacle of Xbox had extra to say about a number of subjects within the present world of gaming. In addition to speaking concerning the current state of cloud gaming and the so-called console struggle, Spencer additionally detailed what the longer term holds for next-gen consoles and the Xbox model. Check out all our protection within the tales linked beneath.

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