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Xbox Co-Creator Ed Fries (IGN Unfiltered Interview)

Nov 4, 2011
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I don't know if you did or not, but the ongoing narrative of Phil Spencer: AaaaAAAAaaaaa saviour of the universe and Don Mattrick: Ruiner of worlds is beyond stupid.
I don't think so.

At the end of it, Mattrick was the boss only answering to Ballmer. The initial xbox one vision/fuck up lands on Mattrick and Ballmer. They were the leaders.

Some blame can be placed on Spencer, sure, but at the end of it, Mattrick and Ballmer called the shots.
 

harSon

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Oct 20, 2007
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Phil was in charge of first party studios. Since he replaced Shane Kim for that job we been getting is Halo/Gears/Forza.

I like Spencer. But he was at fault for the piss poor first party support towards the last 3 years of 360.
I swear people have never heard of middle management. Yeah, you have some power, but you're ultimately at the mercy of the policy direction devised by the people above you. If the head of Xbox and CEO of Microsoft wanted Xbox to focus on Kinect, consolidate first party IPs to only its most bankable/proven and rely on farming out development to 2nd/3rd party studios - then all you can do as head of first party is work within those means and budget.
 

LordRaptor

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Aug 20, 2015
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So the only real success MS have had in the console space being the 360, and specifically while under Don Mattrick is... what, Don Mattrick being lucky?
Good Guy Spencer secretly working behind the scenes until he could get his moment to shine?

Classic confirmation bias.
 

SOR5

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Nov 3, 2015
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Younger Bill Gates was crazy. He would walk into meetings with printed out code of a program some jr had written. It would be full of remarks and underlines and he would grill the programmer. He was CEO, debugging code.
 

Salty Hippo

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I swear people have never heard of middle management. Yeah, you have some power, but you're ultimately at the mercy of the policy direction devised by the people above you. If the head of Xbox and CEO of Microsoft wanted Xbox to focus on Kinect, consolidate first party IPs to only its most bankable/proven and rely on farming out development to 2nd/3rd party studios - then all you can do as head of first party is work within those means and budget.
Kinect aside, it hasn`t changed much since he got into his new role. He still seems like a middle man.
 
Nov 4, 2011
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So the only real success MS have had in the console space being the 360, and specifically while under Don Mattrick is... what, Don Mattrick being lucky?
Good Guy Spencer secretly working behind the scenes until he could get his moment to shine?

Classic confirmation bias.
yes?

360 had gained a shit ton of good will by the time Mattrick joined as a senior VP after Sony fumbled. He didn't take over until 2010 as President of Microsoft's entertainment division.

Mattrick successfully launched kinect at the tail end of the motion control era and was successful with it and made tons of money, following Nintendo's path.

Then Mattrick and Ballmer, as the leadership, lacking foresight, understanding of statistics, and just simply ignoring their consumer base, created the xbox one demonstrating a complete out of touch understanding of their market. That's a failure.

They doubled down on motion controls. Underpowered their console. Announced the thing as being entertainment focused. Then went on to I nsult potential buyers stating that if they don't have internet stick with the 360. Finally topping it off by over pricing it.

But yes, Spencer in middle management, following the leadership, proposals, ideas, and instruction of Ballmer and Mattrick deserves as much fault as them. Yep.

And again, I am not saying that Spencer doesn't deserve blame. My question would be though was he a "yes man" or did he counter argue any of Ballmer and Mattrick's ideas. That is a point of issue that is missing.
 

Oersted

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Yamauchi wasn't doing a lot of interviews back then, or before then, and he's doing significantly fewer now...

When he was alive, he tended to do quite clinical, abrupt financial press interviews and not that much else.
Read again, this isn't about an interview.
 

SOR5

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Nov 3, 2015
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Xbox was released in 2001.

Iwata became President of Nintendo in 2002.

Why not sitting down with Yamauchi? Does not make sense.
I think he was just namedropping someone that people might be more familiar with, Iwata couldve definitely been there
 

Jumeira

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Aug 11, 2015
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I don't know if you did or not, but the ongoing narrative of Phil Spencer: AaaaAAAAaaaaa saviour of the universe and Don Mattrick: Ruiner of worlds is beyond stupid.
Its fairly accurate, Don places the vision and direction of the company which everyone has to do their best to make work, just like Phil now - since incharge has shown a completely different attitude and enthusiasm for what gaming should be. Add to that, past Xbox leaders have said the same about Phil, who have far more insight then anyone here. Sounds like your upset that Phil steadied the ship and is being well received. Whatever X1 turned out to be in 2013, it was Mattricks product. Xbox S & Scorpio is Phil's. Its really that simple.
 

Salty Hippo

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Its fairly accurate, Don places the vision and direction of the company which everyone has to do their best to make work, just like Phil now - since incharge has shown a completely different attitude and enthusiasm for what gaming should be. Add to that, past Xbox leaders have said the same about Phil, who have far more insight then anyone here. Sounds like your upset that Phil steadied the ship and is being well received. Whatever X1 turned out to be in 2013, it was Mattricks product. Xbox S & Scorpio is Phil's. Its really that simple.
After Phil Spencer took over we still haven't had a holiday where less than 2/3 of their first-party games is composed of HaloGearsForza. Won't happen this holiday either. Maybe next year.

This would be no problem if the rest of these years were packed with exclusive games, but that has not been the case either. So please remind me why is Spencer our Lord & Saviour again? He's dropping the ball hard when it comes to games compared to the competition.
 

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
Jun 7, 2004
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On Microsofts initial plans for Xbox:


On Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, and the divisions with Microsoft:
So basically there were two internal teams with the Valentines Day Massacre, I teamed up with one, the other was the continuation of the Sega Dreamcast line and their console was very much a pure console. Ours had a hard disk and was a PC in disguise, so we had all these executives on our side and we had guys on our side and Bill Gates chooses us because were on-strategy, were running Windows and all this stuff. So all of that culminates into this big meeting on Valentines Day, so we go into the meeting and four o clock valentines day, Bill walks in he's holding a Powerpoint deck and yells "This is the blanking insult to everything ive done at this company" and that was the start, so we all looked at J Allard because we knew he's mad about the Windows thing
Interesting turn of events... The team Fries was in won against the CagEnt/ex-M2 HW team because being in line with the Windows strategy and saying their console would have Windows running on it and ended up delivering something that was not running Windows... The other team must have felt a bit weird at least.
 
Nov 4, 2011
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After Phil Spencer took over we still haven't had a holiday where less than 2/3 of their first-party games is composed of HaloGearsForza. Won't happen this holiday either. Maybe next year.

This would be no problem if the rest of these years were packed with exclusive games, but that has not been the case either. So please remind me why is Spencer our Lord & Saviour again? He's dropping the ball hard when it comes to games compared to the competition.
Having Quantum Break a few months ago, inside this week, and the likes of cuphead, FH3, ReCore, Gears 4, and DR4 in coming over the next 5 months shouldnt be considered as dropping the ball, at least not in my book.

I agree though, Microsoft needs some internal studios badly.

Having 4 of their 5 studios stuck to single franchises is hurting them.
 

Salty Hippo

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Having Quantum Break a few months ago, inside this week, and the likes of cuphead, FH3, ReCore, Gears 4, and DR4 in coming over the next 5 months shouldnt be considered as dropping the ball, at least not in my book.

I agree though, Microsoft needs some internal studios badly.

Having 4 of their 5 studios stuck to single franchises is hurting them.
Inside and Cuphead are indie and one of them is timed exclusive. I love indie games but they're not a good example of heavy investment in a portfolio of games and that's my point. Unless there's a fuckton of them. DR4 is also a timed exclusive just like ROTR and probably as dumb of an investment, it's not one of their games at all. So you're left with a Forza, a Gears and Recore. Out of those 3, guess which one is a budget title.

MS is too risk averse and their lineup has been suffering because of this for years now. Spencer has done jack shit to change this, if anything he changed it for the worse by closing Lionhead and Press Play and letting go of Twisted Pixel. They invest their money in the dumbest things you can imagine. They have no problem paying millions for a useless timed exclusivity that will move next to zero consoles. They have no problem throwing Littlefinger and others a huge bag of cash to appear in Quantum Break, delusionally hoping it will help sales in any significant way. But good luck getting a reasonable budget to finish your fucking game, Phantom Dust guys.

MS's entire philosophy for their gaming division is self-destructive and has been for almost a decade now. When the Halo, Gears and Forza cows finally dry up (they have started already) I don't see this business making sense anymore for Satya and his investors unless they land some major hits out of left field. And I say out of left field because they don't invest nearly as much as they should for that to happen. Quantum Break wasn't a hit. Maybe Sea of Thieves will be if the word of mouth helps? What else do they have? They are slowly running Xbox into the ground and what baffles me is how similar some things still are are to the bullshit Ed Fries had to endure in 2003.
 

barneystuta83

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Apr 9, 2014
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And again, I am not saying that Spencer doesn't deserve blame. My question would be though was he a "yes man" or did he counter argue any of Ballmer and Mattrick's ideas. That is a point of issue that is missing.
http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Phil-Spencer-Xbox-One-Former-DRM-I-Going-Take-Responsibility-Decisions-67999.html

This is about as close as Ive heard. Not directly answering your question, but certainly that Phil was part of the team that made the decisions.

"I see it sometimes on Twitter and other places, where people want to call me out as somebody who was at the leadership table when decisions were made for Xbox One, and that's absolutely true.

"I've never tried to wash my hands or distance myself from my role on the Xbox One leadership team through the announcement of the console, E3 2013 - I was there, and I'm not trying to create some kind of false history that makes me look better, to say I wasn't there, I wasn't involved. I'm going to take responsibility for those decisions, absolutely, good ones and bad ones. I have to, otherwise I don't have any credibility in what I do going forward.

"I wouldn't trust me if all of a sudden I tried to say 'well, I was asleep during those meetings'. It would be silly.I was there."
Edit: On topic. Ryan, if you read this, top work. I love IGN unfiltered. Great journalism all around. Loved this.
 

Shpeshal Ed

aka Collingwood
Mar 16, 2007
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Was an amazing interview. Best unfiltered yet. Loved the stories Ed had to tell.
 

FyreWulff

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Sometimes I really wish Bungie would be allowed to come back and finish Halo 2. Yeah, Halo 3 has a lot of the end of Halo 2 in it, but I just sorta wish they you know, could finish off that lost year.

It's one of those weird games where the developer wanted it to be one thing and the deadline made it another. Sometimes I wish the "real" Halo 2 was playable - in terms of the last act and the multiplayer.


Didn't know Fries quit over the deadline not getting extended, though.
 

daTRUballin

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Jun 2, 2015
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I don't think so.

At the end of it, Mattrick was the boss only answering to Ballmer. The initial xbox one vision/fuck up lands on Mattrick and Ballmer. They were the leaders.

Some blame can be placed on Spencer, sure, but at the end of it, Mattrick and Ballmer called the shots.
I've noticed that people tend to give credit to Phil for doing a 180 on all the policies the Xbox One had initially. But I'm pretty sure Mattrick and Ballmer were still the leaders when all those policies were reversed. So it wasn't like Phil became head of Xbox before the console released and got rid of all those policies. Mattrick already did that before him.

Spencer didn't become head of Xbox until early 2014 (Nadella didn't become CEO until early 2014 as well). He did get rid of the Kinect though, so we can give him that. But I think if Mattrick were to still be the leader today, I think he would've done much of the same stuff Spencer did due to all the backlash and heat the gaming community gave the console. Considering Mattrick already got rid of the biggest problem the console had before Spencer took the helm.
 

Azih

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The person at the top gets the blame and the glory. That's not 'confirmation bias'. Mattrick launched the Kinect and the original Xbone. Spencer's legacy really starts with the S and Scorpio. Until then he's just been managing fallout.

Honestly for the bone it seemed like Mattrick had checked out and was content with letting the entertainment folk take the lead. Coaxial input? NFL partnership? No games at reveal?
 

Oersted

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Mar 14, 2012
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I think he was just namedropping someone that people might be more familiar with, Iwata couldve definitely been there
I doubt that. The planning phase of Xbox was between 1998 and 2000. Iwata was at HAL Laboratory. In 2000, the finalized Xbox was presented and Iwata joined Nintendo.
 

FyreWulff

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It seems like these plans have been skimmed through the paper shredder but quite a few pieces have remained, the unified ecosystem, Xbox Live everywhere. Nearly everything else has been ditched., and thank god Kinect is one of them.
The funny part is if you go back and watch, I think E3 2006, you see spending half the conference talking about Xbox Live Anywhere, and unified Live across all devices.

Microsoft basically echoes themselves about every 6 years.

PA made this comic about it:

https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/06/19

 

LukasTaves

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Dec 14, 2011
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The funny part is if you go back and watch, I think E3 2006, you see spending half the conference talking about Xbox Live Anywhere, and unified Live across all devices.

Microsoft basically echoes themselves about every 6 years.

PA made this comic about it:

https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/06/19
Yeah, this isn't just some last resort action because xbone is underperforming, it was their goal all along.

They just weren't ina position to actual deliver back then (they still aren't completely there yet, but getting close)
 
Jan 21, 2015
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After Phil Spencer took over we still haven't had a holiday where less than 2/3 of their first-party games is composed of HaloGearsForza. Won't happen this holiday either. Maybe next year.

This would be no problem if the rest of these years were packed with exclusive games, but that has not been the case either. So please remind me why is Spencer our Lord & Saviour again? He's dropping the ball hard when it comes to games compared to the competition.
I like the guy, but I agree that Phil hasn't proved that he's good at his job yet. Apart from Ori, I'm no closer to wanting an Xbox One, and I consider myself an Xbox guy, mainly.

However, untangling the mess that was the X1 launch and trying to get some exciting new stuff, Phil may have done a good job, he was just not in a great position when he took over. At least we have Scalebound and Recore as JP titles. Ori was nice, Crackdown back is cool I guess. But there's still a long way to go.

And it seems obvious Phil was picked to be "anti-Mattrick", a guy who's all about the games, eoen to Earth etc. And we do have Elite controller, back compat, so Phil has done some nice things.
 

superNESjoe

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Feb 16, 2014
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The funny part is if you go back and watch, I think E3 2006, you see spending half the conference talking about Xbox Live Anywhere, and unified Live across all devices.

Microsoft basically echoes themselves about every 6 years.

PA made this comic about it:

https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/06/19
Fun side note about the Achievement craze. This was me for a while. A good couple of years. I had a couple friends who were crazy about Achievements too so it just kept me in this loop because the people I gamed with all acted like it was important so it kept me thinking it was totally normal to care so much about it.

At it's worst, it literally created anxiety about playing games on non-Xbox hardware because I wouldn't be getting Achievements for it (I missed both Mario Galaxy games and still haven't found the time to go back to them because of this). I had an epiphany one day and just cold-turkey broke that chain. I can totally understand why Microsoft would repeatedly try and make some sort of ecosystem that keeps you trapped with notifications and visualization of this data wherever you are, because for a lot of people it legit works.

Now as a developer I'm on the other side of it and I've seen frothing hate from Achievement hunters. I was once given a death threat because I had 1 and 4 point achievements in my game.
 

SOR5

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Nov 3, 2015
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Just bumping up this thread because this pic was posted at a ball game and I thought it would be a nice epilogue to have 12 years later