Alex Birlo on April 6, 2020

Head of Xbox Answers Questions

A couple of days ago, IGN had a remote video interview with Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, about the state of the company and the current developments as we approach the release of the next generation of consoles this holiday season.

Several very interesting questions have been answered in this almost half-hour-long interview and here is the gist of it all.

What more can we expect before the launch of the new Xbox Series X?

The very beginning of the interview had a nice start with the topic of what more will we hear from the Xbox team before launch.

Phil Spencer stated that there are going to be a few more hardware-related announcements, but they are beginning to shift marketing towards the “Games part” of it all and we will hear more about it soon.

Are their plans now hindered by the current developments?

Due to the virus outbreak and the quarantine measures, applied worldwide, people are concerned about how will it affect the supply of the new consoles at launch and will it shift the releases of games on this new console.

To this, the head of Xbox had to say that they are hard at work on all the measures necessary to keep everything on track as the developers move to “work-from-home”.

He elaborated that as “we see more factories in China come back online we feel pretty good about those plans”, but never the less he does state that they learn and adapt their strategy every day as the situation develops. Based on that I personally would assume that we might yet see changes to the whole schedule of the release.

Are the games more likely to be delayed than the console?

Actually, for me, the answer to this was quite obvious – YES OF COURSE.

The hardware is now mostly in its final state in terms of development. While, as Phil noted, part of the software is also developed by third parties and it means that besides the obvious struggles with “work-from-home” that these third parties have, they also have to adapt to the new developer-kit that the Xbox is coming with. And that is obviously harder to keep on track.

Xbox price

This is one of the more important things when it comes to the ultimate decision of whether to buy a new console early or wait on it. And on this topic, Phil had made a valid reminder that even during the crisis of 2008 we saw that gaming “tends to remain durable” and does not crumble like many other industries.

So gaming is not going to disappear due to the current virus outbreak. If anything, I personally would say only more people will end up being introduced to it over this long period of isolation.

But never the less, the landscape is changing rapidly and quite steeply, so the head of Xbox said that they are working on alternative options of making a purchase for consumers. Such as the “Xbox All Access” subscription they introduced – which allows you to basically “rent” a console with the access to hundreds of games and online multiplayer.

What also was said, is that since usually consoles are being sold at a relative loss and the company makes up for it with subscriptions, games, etc. the team in charge tries to always stay agile in terms of pricing.

And since they have the financial backing of such a rich company as Microsoft, there is more confidence in the cooperative decision-making regarding future plans.

From the rest of the conversation I also got the understanding that getting the right price is very important for Xbox this generation. Since it was a major offset in the beginning of this generation when the Xbox One was a whole 100 USD more expensive than the PlayStation 4.

Lessons learned

Another interesting point was when Phil talked about the lessons that they learned from their launch of the Xbox One back in 2013. And besides the obvious ones like exclusives and pricing, he also said: “know your customer”. Which rings true in this day and age even more than back then. The gaming community is way more engaged in what happens in the industry, there is more awareness and the players’ voices are heard.

So he went on to tell that every service and product they are introducing to this new generation is built around the consumer as much as possible and that shows.

For me, it was nice to see how strong Xbox seems to start out this new generation, even before the actual launch of the console this year.

Things like the “Xbox All Access” that lets you rent out a console or the “Smart Delivery” which lets you get the upped version of the game you own on the old generation downloaded, for no additional cost, to your new console – if such a version is available – instead of paying another 60 dollars for just a remastered upgrade for next-gen, are all great examples of value for the consumers.

We should anticipate tough competition between the console this year and that means just one thing for us as consumers:

A greater choice amongst greater products


The original IGN remote video interview with Phil Spenser: