Xbox’s Phil Spencer: From Savior To Villain

With his recent comments on the future of single-player games, a refocusing of the Xbox brand on hardware, and a fading confidence among his fans, Phil Spencer is losing a grip as Head of Xbox.

Xbox's Phil Spencer: From Savior To Villain
The Xbox One's launch in 2013 was nothing short of a PR nightmare. From DRM restrictions to obligatory Kinect bundling to a steep price point and more, fanboys everywhere demanded Don Mattrick's head on a plate lest the Xbox brand be driven to the ground entirely. Microsoft's corporate headquarters listened, luckily, and following Mattrick's "resigning" instilled Phil Spencer as Head of Xbox. After that the Xbox One blossomed and grew in sales and in good favor with the industry, and everything wrong with the world of gaming was made good again.


In all seriousness, Spencer has managed to do a lot of right for Xbox. Removing Kinect and offering Xbox One was smart, sure, but going the extra mile and bringing backwards compatibility to the console – something its closest major competitor still doesn't offer in the same capacity – was a huge win for hardcore fans and scored huge points amongst industry professionals, even if its legitimacy is being brought into question.

A restored goodwill was brought to the brand, with sales surpassing that of the PlayStation 4 during one holiday season. Substantial exclusives were finally something Xbox had to offer, and even if they were in the vein of Rise of the Tomb Raider, they were enticing exclusives nonetheless.

But things started to slow down.

With long periods of nothing too noteworthy, gamers began losing faith, most notably towards the end of last year and continuing to the present day. This was made very apparent during the cancellation of Scalebound, an action-JRPG from PlatinumGames that appealed to hardcore sensibilities. For many, this was the title that would make them actually purchase the console, a defiant stand that Microsoft was still pining for the Japanese market and making an effort to capture it. Sadly, things got worse from there.

The focus of Xbox on hardware this E3 was not a smart move, especially when considering both Nintendo and Sony took the opposite route. Announcing so many exclusives appearing at the conference only to come up with a handful of truly appealing ones was a bad choice of words. To top it all off, giving us no reason to buy a $500 upgrade this late into the console generation's life cycle was borderline insulting.

Xbox is retreading familiar ground, the same that made the original console not as successful as it could've been. For Phil Spencer to say things like the Xbox is in a "different league" to its competition is misguided and cocky – something its not in the position to be right now. Saying that exclusivity deals are not the aim and not healthy to gaming only to exhibit them at full display at your conference is hypocritical and untrustworthy. And now, saying that single-player games lack a future indicates a significant out-of-touch with your community, especially considering the recent success of games like NieR: Automata, Persona 5, and Horizon Zero Dawn (two out of the three just so happen to be Japanese, mind you).

As I mentioned in an earlier opinion piece, Microsoft needs to start doing, and Spencer needs to be at the forefront of that again. It seems as though the current Head of Xbox has gotten lazy with the confidence he's accrued, but he can't rest of his laurels. Promises are made and then unkept across companies within the industry, sure, but Xbox is in no position to keep doing this, especially with the scrutiny its gained with the Xbox One X.

Regardless of what may happen with the brand, it will be interesting to see what Spencer says next. Let's just hope he holds his tongue.

The opinion expressed in this article is purely that of the author and is not representative of KeenGamer as a whole. Follow David on Twitter: @ZenoCreator125 

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And despite whatever good you think Spencer has done, the XBox is still the least desired console. Backward-compatibility is awesome, but still didn’t save it from being less desired. Another thing that is good but I think has actually hurt the console is the fact that now games coming out for the XBox are also playable on Windows. Since I am a PC gamer above all, that pretty much eliminates my desire to ever own an XBox. I did buy a PS4 Pro though. Didn’t buy a Switch since I’m not a mobile gamer and that’s the only cool thing… Read more »


I am very offended by this article you are clearly hate monger and spreading a dishonest rumour mill!! Phil Spencer is the saviour of the Xbox brand and has spoken out against Sony about there refusal to allow cross platform play with Minecraft!! Saying that Microsoft are asking for $500 for an upgrade proves that you clearly have no idea about the future of next gen gaming and you are uneducated troll blogger that needs to do more research into things before posting them!!


well i mostly play multiplats on my xbox one any way.i just have a xbox because of the controller and xbox live which are both better then ps4 and psn.its a multiplat gen any way.just give me my far crays and my assassins creeds and im good.maybe halo but thats why i buy a xbox in the first place.     all i can say is ill let the numbers do the talking 60.4m ps4’s sold only 3m hzd,9m uncharted 4 and 1m nioh and ff15 sold thats not even 1% of the ps4 player base that tells you… Read more »


1% of 60 Mil is .6 Mil or 600 K.. And all those sold more than 600 K.


Lol not even close. He saved the Xbox brand and is continuing to do so.

Ludwig the Accursed

Microsoft’s biggest problem has been the lack of compelling exclusives this generation. People are getting tired of Halo, Gears, and Forza. New hardware does not solve anything. It can have a 10 teraflops, but if you don’t have the games, its useless. Its always been about the games and Microsoft has failed to do that this generation.


I think he has done a lot of good for the Xbox but he hasn’t exactly changed the gaming landscape. Even the introduction of the One X is not about to make huge ripples because for the majority 4K just isn’t a viable option at this moment in time (much like with Sony and VR).     All that really matters right now is the quality of the games. I personally think Sony (or probably even Switch as they get more games out) has the stronger first party exclusives lined up at present. Everyone played it pretty safe at E3… Read more »


I wish you “So Called Media Types” would report the full story instead of trying to click bait us with agendas. One of the biggest resons to buy the New Xbox one X is because it will play “ALL” existing and future games better than every console on the market RIGHT NOW. Additionally, it will play every game that is already released on the xbox one platform better with the added touch of 16X filtering at the hardware level. Futhermore, even if you don’t have a 4K tv you benefit because all 4k games and those lovely 4k textures get… Read more »


“This is an opinion piece, not a news story.”


Your opinion is on a news site so it is expected to at least contain some news. With that being said, at least base your opinion on ALL the facts or when presenting your agenda be factually correct.


Your article implies that there will be no benefit of owning the X Box One X if you don’t have a 4k tv, ( it has 12 gigs of ram allowing it to supersample “ALL of those 4k games at the hardward level making them the best version of 1080P available ), it further implies that microsoft has no games , ( they showed off 42 games that could be played on the console and not some $500 peripheral, and the last time I checked 42 > 9, Nine being the amount of games that could be played on the… Read more »


“My bias just isn’t the same as yours, and that’s perfectly OK.”


You have assumed that I am biased. I’m not, I will hold all platform holders accountable for the issues they bring to gamers, and as my tag sayd DbeAGamer above all else I love games not corperations. Nevertheless, my bigger issue with your article is the same I have with an illogical argument it fails to persuede an informed person because the bias of it attempts to misinform, misdirect, malign any positive aspects of company’s that are not favored by “YOUR” bias.


This article is so damn stupid


I just think the decision makers have a far better grasp of their customers and understand that they like diversity. Meanwhile, MS appears to be very US focused and its all a little predictable. The cancellation of Spellbound was a shock to me and yet it highlighted that MS care only about the here and now, the bottom line and not the long term. Spellbound might of been a year late, cost more than budgeted but the result and the fans it could of generated could of helped MS further down the line. This is why I see Phil Spencer… Read more »


I meant the decision makers at Sony…..


Phil Spencer has done nothing but good for the gaming industry as a whole. If you’re looking for a typical bad for gaming in general stereo type the author should write a piece on Jim Ryan, he’s toxic and mouth off without having a clue……


Most of this article is based off out of context interpretation of what phil said, and also pinning things on him that don’t necessarily have to do with him. E3 wasn’t packed with Xbox exclusives because he has taken the practice of only announcing what his available in the next year, instead of projects years away. And then you talk about console generations. How out of touch are you with console news. Both Sony and Xbox are eliminating generations and instead following the pc route. Your opinion piece seems to be built on snippets of summaries from other people opinion… Read more »


I agree with this article.


I find it annoying that Phil spencer is trying to downplay single player games.


I watched nearly every interview with Phil Spencer from E3 and you should be ashamed of what you have posted in this hit piece. Almost none of what you claim did he actually say. In fact he came off as magnanimous, genuine, and having a real desire to see the industry as a whole do well. The exact opposite of you, actually. If this is the quality of “editorials” that can be expected from this site, I won’t be back.


I have faith in Xbox One X… All games will look and play better on the X, I am going to upgrade my Xbox 360E that is 4 years old and get the X… I can’t wait to play Ace Combat 7, Witcher 3 and other games on the X… many games are getting upgraded to the X and all will look and play better… I am looking forward to next years E3 and Elder Scrolls VI that will come out and Halo 6 is going to be way better than Halo 5 with Master Chief taking a much bigger… Read more »


They need to take their games off PC. There is no reason to own an XBOX.


Don’t forget — Nioh sold pretty well on PS4 which is another SINGLE player game. In my opinion, there needs to be change in upper management at Xbox.


How come e3 was only focused on hardware, when thr company have shown 44 games on stage?

Peter Piper

A lot of those games are coming to PS4. Only 7 are only on Xbox/PC.

Mr. Postman

This is why I give a lot of credit to Nintendo and Sony. They showed games you can’t get anywhere else.


POOR Spencer is way worse than Mattrick.




No Bungie


No Remedy


No Lionhead Studios


No Epic Games


No Scalebound


No Real Exclusives


False Advertising (cloud, esram, dx12..)


7/24 twitter, false promises. No Games


No GOTY contenders

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