So with the news that Microsoft was appointing Stephen Elop to the head of the devices and services division of the company, you may have been worried about the future of the gaming platform under the man who pretty much demolished Nokia. Well depending on how you like him already, you can either sigh in relief or scream in a flat panic because Phil Spencer now heads up the Xbox division in its entirety. With Marc Whitten leaving the company to pursue other personal projects, Spencer has been made to step up to the plate and steer the ship.
If you’re not familiar with Spencer, you probably missed the entire Xbox One PR saga which lasted about six months from the moment it was announced to its eventual launch on 22 November 2013 for thirteen countries around the world. Spencer, along with Yusuf Mehdi, Larry Hyrb, Marc Whitten and Don Mattrick were the main men responsible for introducing and marketing the Xbox One to the world.
Although the team was mostly let down by some ridiculous choice statements by Mattrick, Spencer and Whitten have a pretty clean record thus far and have been vocal about core gamer support. In a blog post detailing his new role at Microsoft, Spencer said that he was still positive about the brand despite the bad PR of yesteryear.
“I will now be leading the Xbox, Xbox Live, and creative teams including Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Microsoft Studios as we deliver the next generation of games and entertainment,” Spencer wrote. “Combining these teams will strengthen the connection between some of the world’s most innovative creators and those building the Xbox itself.”
“I am incredibly proud of the talented Xbox employees around the world and believe, like they do, in the power of technology to bring games and entertainment to life across console, PC, tablet and mobile devices.”
In an interview with Kotaku following the announcement of his appointment, Spencer also revealed why he’s overseeing the entire Xbox division instead of previously only being a part of the people that headed up the department. Before, Spencer headed up the Game Studios while Marc Whitten headed up the Xbox Platform, Larry Hyrb would run Xbox Live and Yusuf Mehdi would be in charge of marketing and strategy. Spencer’s role is to now tie this all into a single vision, rather than having disjointed policies, ideas and goals.
If that means that Xbox will be improving across all spheres and not just for the console, then that’s great news. This means that one man has to look at all the platforms using the Xbox brand and figure out what fits and throw out what doesn’t. As has been the case with tech companies before, having a single person execute on a set plan ends up with something far more coherent than, say, the miltiple minds that came together to design Windows 8.
This also means that if something goes wrong, there’s one person to blame and one person to shoulder responsibility. As a game developer and a gamer himself, Spencer might be best poised to make the brand more attractive to gamers once more and, perhaps, to find a way of better supporting the PC platform that Microsoft dominates.
Oh, and who put Spencer at the helm? Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO. Some things are being shaken up in some promising ways by Nadella.