Phil Spencer Takes Over as Xbox Boss
How busy was I last week? I completely missed that Microsoft announced that long-time Microsoft Studios boss, Phil Spencer, got a promotion. The company announced that he would be taking on a newly created role as the head of the Xbox and gaming division of Microsoft.
The move comes just one month after Stephen Elop, former Nokia CEO, was named the head of Microsoft’s Devices Division, which included the Xbox. This removes Xbox and associated properties from Elop’s portfolio and hands them over to Spencer. That’s probably a good thing because it was believed that Elop wanted to get sell off Xbox if he got the CEO job before it went to Satya Nadella.
Rather than having Spencer report to Elop, because he’s the boss of devices and hardware, Microsoft is having Spencer report to Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of Operating Systems. According to a statement from CEO Nadella, the thinking was to “bring more of the magic of Xbox to all form factors, including tablets, PCs and phones.” I guess that makes sense if you want Xbox branding and services to be big across multiple platforms rather than just a gaming device. It fits with the Xbox One’s raison d’être.
Since the announcement, Spencer did an interview with Larry Hyrb (AKA Major Nelson), the boss of Xbox Live. In what was a surprisingly honest interview, Spencer went so far as to say that the Xbox division made some mistakes with the launch of the Xbox One. He also said that the Xbox One console needed to re-adopt a gaming first approach, something that was sorely lacking from the initial Xbox launch.
While you may not be an Xbox fan in the great console war that has been waged over the last 13 years, you have to admit that hiring Spencer was a very good choice. He’s not a corporate guy or a C-suite guy but a gaming guy who worked his way up from software development to management rather than being groomed for that from the start out of a business school. I say that as someone who went to a business school. Hopefully, he keeps the focus on games rather than moving away like Don Mattrick did.