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It's Phil's week. WSJ: Microsoft’s Videogame Boss and the Long Battle to Reinvent the Company

Greggy

Member
Uninvent if old.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/micros...-to-reinvent-the-company-11643912561?mod=e2tw

The $75 billion deal that Phil Spencer engineered for Activision Blizzard Inc. ATVI -0.38% is the biggest bet yet that games can go from a side hustle to a core business at the world’s most valuable software company.

A Microsoft Corp. lifer and a lifelong gamer, Mr. Spencer has been the chief architect and evangelist for a bigger videogame strategy inside a company that revived its fortunes in recent years largely by focusing on business customers. His plan has shifted videogames at Microsoft from its two-decade emphasis on its Xbox videogame hardware to a vision of assembling a roster of studios whose games can be played across a range of devices. And Mr. Spencer has tied his game ambitions directly into cloud computing, which Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella has put at the heart of his broader vision.
“He does a great job of balancing business needs with the creative needs,” said Robbie Bach, a retired Microsoft executive who led the early development of Microsoft’s Xbox business starting in 1999. “That is the hardest thing to do.”
The deal for Activision, which is subject to federal antitrust review, would turn the Redmond, Wash., company into the world’s third-largest videogame company, behind China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Japan’s Sony Group Corp. Microsoft would have more than $20 billion a year in gaming revenue, putting it on par with the Windows operating system that for decades was the biggest driver of Microsoft’s business.

He was already more into games than the average Microsoft employee, said people who worked with him. He would call colleagues into his office to show off new ones, they said, and sometimes play games on his phone during meetings.

In a 2020 podcast with Xbox employee Larry Hryb, Mr. Spencer acknowledged playing on the company’s latest Xbox console during videoconference calls that took place via the company’s Teams software. “When I’m working, don’t tell Satya, but there are many times where I’ll just flip over and I’ll be sitting on the Teams call and I’m playing with my Series S,” he told the interviewer.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil has literally played every game that launched in the past year and has an opinion on it,” said Richard Irving, who spent 12 years working on the Xbox team before leaving Microsoft in 2016. “Phil at his core is a gamer.”
Sarah Bond, a corporate vice president in the Xbox group, joined in 2017 right when Game Pass launched and has watched Mr. Spencer slowly build his vision piece by piece.

“He is an extraordinarily patient man,” said Ms. Bond. “He thinks of things in arcs of time far longer than me. He often encourages me to be patient.”

In 2018, Mr. Spencer unveiled streaming gaming to hundreds of company leaders at an annual retreat at a mountain resort in Washington. In a live demo, a player in North America on a Microsoft Xbox console, another in Europe on a PC and yet another on a cellphone in Indonesia raced each other in a Microsoft game that was running on Microsoft’s cloud.


It showed a future of gaming that functioned completely on the cloud, potentially creating a huge new group of consumers to target with Microsoft’s cloud-services infrastructure.

“From that moment on, the leadership at the highest levels of Microsoft were bought in,” said Kareem Choudhry, the corporate vice president of cloud gaming, who presented the demo. “We were just kind of off and running to the races.”

Mr. Spencer started pursuing more acquisitions as it needed original content to entice gamers to its subscription platform. By last year it owned a total of 23 studios.

Mr. Spencer’s opportunity to buy Activision, one of the largest gaming companies, arose late last year. Federal regulators were investigating the company over how it handled employees’ allegations of sexual misconduct and workplace discrimination, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick had mishandled sexual-misconduct allegations. Activision’s share price tumbled nearly 30% between July, when the first regulatory investigation was made public and when the Microsoft deal was announced, making it a ripe acquisition target.
Mr. Spencer said he is confident that Activision management is addressing the workplace issues.

“We see the progress that they are making, that was pretty fundamental to us deciding to go forward here,” he said.

If the Activision deal closes, Mr. Spencer’s group will control 30 studios, pushing the company closer to becoming the “Netflix for gaming.”

“Phil has been systematically putting the building blocks in place,” said S. Somasegar, a more than 25-year veteran of Microsoft who left in 2015. “He’s got enough now to take the next big step with Activision.
 

Concern

Member
here they come watch out GIF by South Park


Ready
 

kingfey

Banned
I Agree The Kid Mero GIF by Desus & Mero



[ICODE][U]Please dont cap for upper management people alot. That is not healthy relationship[/U][/ICODE]
 
He was already more into games than the average Microsoft employee, said people who worked with him. He would call colleagues into his office to show off new ones, they said, and sometimes play games on his phone during meetings.

In a 2020 podcast with Xbox employee Larry Hryb, Mr. Spencer acknowledged playing on the company’s latest Xbox console during videoconference calls that took place via the company’s Teams software. “When I’m working, don’t tell Satya, but there are many times where I’ll just flip over and I’ll be sitting on the Teams call and I’m playing with my Series S,” he told the interviewer.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil has literally played every game that launched in the past year and has an opinion on it,” said Richard Irving, who spent 12 years working on the Xbox team before leaving Microsoft in 2016. “Phil at his core is a gamer.”

Everyone will say it's cheesy marketing, and it kind of is. But you can tell this is true with this guy. And honestly, I do think it makes a little difference. That's the reason you see stuff like Phantasy Star Online on Xbox that would likely be skipped by other people. Or investment in backwards compatibility. It helps to at least appreciate games a little bit. And definitely not every CEO operates this way.
 

Everyone will say it's cheesy marketing, and it kind of is. But you can tell this is true with this guy. And honestly, I do think it makes a little difference. That's the reason you see stuff like Phantasy Star Online on Xbox that would likely be skipped by other people. Or investment in backwards compatibility. It helps to at least appreciate games a little bit. And definitely not every CEO operates this way.
Yep. While Phil is a cutthroat CEO, he's also a real gamer. Rare combination tbh.
 
Of course, they are even giving the guy an award. Shit's hilarious, nobel peace prize if they buy Nintendo.
If Barry O. got a nobel peace prize for bombing the shit out of brown people, then Phil can get one for saving the gaming industry :messenger_beaming:

Sorry if the first part is too political.

(not actually sorry)

(it's historical, not political)

(the second part is obviously a joke)
 
I do, but it's not my fault one of these companies is so fluent and constantly using the media to wash people's brains, weaponizing communication as an art form. They are incredible at it.
They're definitely doing it on purpose. And they're very good at it this gen, as you said. They even put out that documentary series recently.

They're winning the PR war right now. Sony definitely won it last gen.
 

MastaKiiLA

Member
Phil has a fun job. Fail fail fail, open the pocketbook....fail some more. We're going to look back and wonder how Sony (and ostensibly Nintendo) managed to beat MS, despite the latter buying up half the industry. And it's going to be Phil's grinning carcass adorning their trophy case. Having big pocket books doesn't make you a genius, and I'm not sure Phil has done anything worth a damn in his tenure.
 
Phil has a fun job. Fail fail fail, open the pocketbook....fail some more. We're going to look back and wonder how Sony (and ostensibly Nintendo) managed to beat MS, despite the latter buying up half the industry. And it's going to be Phil's grinning carcass adorning their trophy case. Having big pocket books doesn't make you a genius, and I'm not sure Phil has done anything worth a damn in his tenure.
Well he personally pushed for that whole Gamepass sub thing that has disrupted the entire industry. Pushed for Xbox to have dual SKU approach to hardware which seems to be paying off. Pushed for BC investment, cloud investment in Xbox, and investment in studio acquisitions. And convinced everyone this wouldn't be a flaming train wreck while putting all their games day 1 on their new service. And single handedly turned around MS PR and sentiment on the brand.
 

Shanomatic

Member
Phil makes one group of people incredibly angry and the other group desperate horny; really that’s all the reason I need to like the guy.

I have no misconceptions about Spencer; he’s a top level CEO, there’s always gonna be a level of smarminess to what he says, it’s part of the job. That said, I don’t think it can be disputed that he has stewarded Xbox and Microsoft’s gaming ambitions to a much better position than it once was.

I don’t think it’s fair to claim that it’s all just about the money; many a rich man and company have endeavored on projects and plans and failed miserably. Look at Stadia or Amazon’s attempts in gaming; these companies have nearly as many resources as Microsoft does and the results are night and day.

Love him, hate him, feel however you want but it’s undeniable that he, and his decisions, and his vision for gaming has had a visible, arguably seismic impact on the industry, and he’ll likely be a figure that will be talked about long after he’s retired.
 

DaGwaphics

Gold Member
Spencer deserves the praise. With most of these long-term efforts in their infancy still, we aren't riding the top of this wave just yet. Never been a better time to be a gamer, especially on Xbox/PC.
 

NonPhixion

Member
He has certainly saved face since standing shoulder to shoulder with Don Mattrick in 2013. Good thing everyone called them out on their shit so they were forced to change.
 
I remember every year Phil would sit on the couch with Jeff at e3 and you could just tell he was going to execute on his vision and wasn’t another bullshitter.

The amount of embarrassing comments at the time saying Phil had done nothing and wasn’t turning Xbox around was hilarious. Those people have mostly shut up now.

Keep on going Phil. Gamepass has made my gaming experience so much better and it only seems to be getting better in terms of value.
 

sainraja

Member
I don’t think it’s fair to claim that it’s all just about the money; many a rich man and company have endeavored on projects and plans and failed miserably. Look at Stadia or Amazon’s attempts in gaming; these companies have nearly as many resources as Microsoft does and the results are night and day.
It took Microsoft 4 generations while Stadia & Luna have only had their first year. I have no confidence in Google doing it alone without having Apple in the game to look up to lol — they start something as quickly as they shut it down. I think where Microsoft played it smart was how they realized they had been trying to compete with the others playing the same game they had been. So they stopped and decided they weren't going to care about that and go all in on subscription. They have found a good blend so far and I hope they are able to stick with it and we never see a stream only future (but this applies to all 3 really.)
 
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Phil has a fun job. Fail fail fail, open the pocketbook....fail some more. We're going to look back and wonder how Sony (and ostensibly Nintendo) managed to beat MS, despite the latter buying up half the industry. And it's going to be Phil's grinning carcass adorning their trophy case. Having big pocket books doesn't make you a genius, and I'm not sure Phil has done anything worth a damn in his tenure.


Stephen Curry Reaction GIF by MOODMAN
 

PhaseJump

Gold Member
It has been 14 years since Lost Odyssey came out. Phil needs to fund some JRPG studios.

He should also heavily invest in games for the blind, since I'm selfish, and expect to fall apart, lose my sight,and perhaps die of old age before Xbox acquires Sega Sammy for Atlus to trigger the weeaboo armageddon this industry needs.
 
Phil did what he was paid to do, turn the Xbox division around. He's currently doing a damn good job.

CEO's, Heads, Leads, Presidents are paid a lot of money to do this. They don't do it alone, but they ultimately take responsibility for success/failure. I think Phil deserves a lot of credit for the organizational turnaround of Xbox and the shift in focus of Xbox. But please, lets not turn corporate ppl into celebrities. It's nearly as weird as ppl who not just supporters, but are fans, of politicians.
 
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