Phil Spencer: I Don’t Know If Xbox One Will Ever Beat PS4

But he also says that keeping customers happy is what matters more to the Xbox team anyway.

Posted By | On 09th, Oct. 2015 Under News | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


The PlayStation 4’s lead over the Xbox One (and the Wii U) is comical. It’s so vast, as a matter of fact, that it’s hard to see how the Xbox One can ever even hope to catch up to the PS4, particularly now with a resurgent console market in Japan. And it seems like Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, agrees- he doesn’t think beating the PS4 is possible any more.

Asked whether Microsoft could beat Sony this gen during a panel at the 2015 GeekWire Summit, Spencer said, “You know, I don’t know. You know, the length of the generation… [Sony] have a huge lead and they have a good product. I love the content, the games line-up that we have.

“One thing that probably I didn’t realize as much as I should have when I started in this role was the impact that the launch had on our team here in Redmond, the Xbox team,” he continued. “Because it’s easy to read the blogs and the sites and my Twitter feed and see what the customers think of our brand and our product, but the team in Redmond took as much of a hit as the external community did around the launch. And 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? 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?”

When Spencer took over last year, regaining the confidence of the Xbox team first and foremost was the most important item on his agenda, he says- yes, regaining customer importance was necessary too, but it would be impossible to do with a team that did not believe in its own messaging.

“Being very forthright with [the team] about where we were and our ability to do things like beat Sony was critical. What I’ve seen in the 18 months that I’ve been in the role is the team is getting more work done in a day than I would expect.

“Every time I sit down and I do a product review, mostly every time, the team comes in with surprise and delight around the momentum that they have, more than I’m able to add. And when I see that transformation of a team that’s questioning the leadership of the organization to a team that’s motivated by the customers that we have and their ability to delight them, 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.”

It’s a refreshingly honest and candid answer, even for Phil Spencer- and I will say this, if the Xbox team’s motivation remains to please the customer, rather than to win a corporate war, then only good things will come for the Xbox One, and for the Xbox brand in general.

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  • legacy

    This is a got damn shame admitting defeat, when sony was losing in the ps3 race they never said no dumb crap like this, waving the white flag two years in already

    • Mark

      As long as we get a stacked 2017 like 2016 appears to be, his focus is in the right place. Microsoft leaning on exclusive new IP is the best dam thing to happen to Xbox imo.

      U may not agree with me, but other than the immature comments we constantly get, Xbox gamers are benefitting from Microsoft “losing the war”. I couldn’t be more excited for Halo, Tomb Raider, and 2016 lineup. So I care less about Phil saying that lol.

    • Orion Wolf

      I admit going on a few banters here and there, but your statement is spot on.

      With MS in the 2nd place what we’re (and having been) getting is far more than if the situation was reversed. If Mattrick’s plan had succeeded and the x1 was the dominating console, I doubt MS
      would have been as … well, as competitive.

      I mean I don’t have anything against the ps4, but Sony sold the ps4 on
      hype and for the most part, on MS “F up” the 2013 e3 (or at least that’s
      how people see it), and not on (IMHO) actual merits – better games,
      more games, better services etc.


      I’m content with the situation as Is.

    • Mark

      The 2013 “Reveal” fumble was a gift and a curse to Xbox fans, so little did I know at the time. We get the games and features, but we’re blasted by NeoGaf.

      Now do we know HOW MUCH Microsoft’s blunder motivated them to give us quality? No. But we do know, that they’re focused, and there’s evidence for that.

      I guess the lesson learned is, it takes fire, to get the best outta people. And I love watchin them burn lol. Jk

  • Duran

    Xbone got owned, I don’t see Halo saving them this generation. I have both systems and I only play the xbox for their exclusives, I stick with my PS4 for the cross platform titles, their community is starting to eclipse Live. games look smoother and their controller is still superior. I look forward to next generation already, when MS will have to up their game, Windows 10 is fine and all, but that isn’t a selling point. when many hardcore gamers will just use PC to game anyway, Sony knows the market and doesn’t have those concerns. Microsoft’s greed is coming back to bite them. I hope this means they get more competitive and don’t give up.

  • Riggerto

    I understand the bad launch Xbone had but imho it was more the under powered XB specs that are and will be the problem.

    I’m sure if Xbone had matched or slightly bettered PS4 specs there would be a much smaller gap and right now with Halo etc… on its way we would be experiencing a huge upsurge in Xbone sales.

    There are other things too… Xbone is big and bulky looking with a power brick – which just confirms its lesser specs visually.

    The only way Xbone can turn it around is to go all out on exclusives. But by exclusives I don’t mean more FPS, super soldiers etc… they need some real different stuff. That really offers something different from PS4.

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  • VoidWalker

    How about you guys just team up with Sony and offer more cross platform content? It’s a win/win for everyone.

  • awng0718

    It’s nice to see Phil admit the reality of the situation. The Xbox One’s presence is simply far too weak in regions outside of North America, Latin America, and the U.K. for it to even come close to approaching PS4 sales. Mr. Spencer needs to focus on satisfying the current and future Xbox One audience, regardless of how small/large it is compared to the PS4 audience.

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