“We were like the garage band for a long time. As long as we didn’t play our music too loud, we were allowed to keep practicing.”
We’ve heard a lot in recent times about how Microsoft have placed a much larger focus on Microsoft than ever before, making a conscious decision to invest heavily in video games going forward, a fact that other Microsoft executives have re-iterated over time as well. Recently, Xbox boss Phil Spencer gave his own two cents on the matter, speaking briefly about this continuously growing importance of the Xbox brand within Microsoft, while speaking also about how that wasn’t always the case.
While speaking with CNET, Spencer talked about how in the earlier years, Microsoft’s gaming division was “like the garage band”, and that as long as they kept to themselves and didn’t cause too much trouble, they were allowed to keep on doing what they’d been doing. However, with initial support from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, who were both integral in the very early stages of Xbox, as well as the immense support being given to the division by current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, that has changed.
“The company in almost all the things we do was an enterprise company,” Spencer said. “We’ve had a couple consumer businesses — gaming is one that Bill [Gates] started, to his credit. He and Steve [Ballmer] originally greenlit Xbox project. The analogy I use with some people is we were like the garage band for a long time. As long as we didn’t play our music too loud, we’re allowed to keep practicing.”
“And now we’ve moved more into the mainstream,” he continued. “But for that time, when we were the garage band, Bill and Steve were — as long as we’re not messing things up and we continue to make progress, things were good.”
Speaking more of how things are now, Spencer talked about the continued support of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, before moving on to the subject of current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who has been “incredibly supporting” of the Xbox division. “Bill’s been incredibly involved in what we’re doing and I still see Steve every so often,” Spencer said. “He asks how Xbox is doing and how things are going.”
“And like I said, with Satya leaning in in this area and being incredibly supportive, it’s an awesome opportunity for us,” he went on. “The vote of confidence that came from the Senior Leadership Team — that gaming is going to be one of the top words in the company — the team really internalize that. And we thought about, what are the resources that Microsoft has? What does it mean for Microsoft to be a leader in the games industry? What role should we play in this industry?”
Clearly, Microsoft have big plans for the future. Recently, they acquired five new studios to add to their portfolio of first party developers, and have invested in services such as Game Pass as well, something they plan on continuing to do even in the next generation.