The 'Xboss' of Xbox reflects on his early years at Microsoft, the circumstances that led to him volunteering to lead Microsoft's Xbox division, launching a console during a pandemic, and more.
"I think the reason I ended up in the job, frankly, was the other leaders were gone. I tease myself that I was the last person left at the table. and there's some truth in that. I want to make sure I keep my ego in check. It wasn't a clear, "You take the person who ran first-party and make them head of the platform." But frankly of the leaders that were there, I was the one that was left."
Another article about Phil saving the xbox division.
How the head of Xbox is preparing for the future.
A few months later, Spencer took over as head of Xbox. Whatever jubilation he felt was short-lived; a few weeks into the job, he got a call from Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO. "I don't actually know a whole lot about why we're in gaming," Nadella told him.
Spencer was facing a lot of internal scrutiny from his own team. Many developers who had worked on the Xbox One felt let down by Microsoft's big vision; it was, as some told Spencer, not in line with "the soul" of what Xbox was.
"Satya was transparent that there could be a future where gaming isn't a business that Microsoft should be in," Spencer told me. "But it's better to have it above the table than below the table, right?"
Spencer tried to work out what to say to Nadella. He looked at where Xbox had failed, and how the brand could be saved--if at all. When he finally called Nadella back, it was to say this: "If we're going to stay in the gaming space, then let's make sure we're all-in. The last thing I wanted to do was run the gaming organization here as kind of an afterthought of the company and kind of half-in, half-out. Let's go fix who we are."