Microsoft’s Phil Spencer on Xbox’s new approach to gaming

The “console wars” are over.

At least in the way they’ve usually been fought.

As we approach a brand new generation of consoles, with Sony passing the baton from the PS4 to the PS5, and Microsoft succeeding the Xbox One with the Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft executive vice-president of Gaming Phil Spencer insists that the paradigm to look at this console generation is by how many people are playing video games, not a head-to-head comparison of console sales. The Series X/S are but a piece of the Microsoft offering, with a complete gaming approach across multiple devices, spearheaded by Microsoft Game Pass.

“I think our our pivot is really to build the best experience for players on the devices that they want to play on,” Spencer told ESPN in an interview. “… I mean, so many of the things that we’re doing now are available on different platforms. So for us in the gaming space, it’s an approach to allow gamers to play the games that they want to play on the devices that they want to play on, and we think that’s the best approach to growing Xbox.”

Ths “family approach” strategy, which has been kicked into overdrive by Game Pass, has been a few years in the making. Spencer said that the Xbox leadership team has been planting the seeds since 2014 and has a focus to make games more accessible as a whole, not just to those that are willing and able to dish out $499 for the Series X or $299 for the Series S.

“If we’re really going to be in the gaming space, shouldn’t we be about all gamers?” Spencer said. “There are three billion people who play video games on the planet today, and there are about 200 million households that will buy a console. Console is an important consideration, but there are also a ton of people who play on PC. A ton of people play on the devices that they already own. I was really trying to expand our strategy to reach gamers on the devices that they want to play on, but also when we build a console to build absolutely the best console anyone could buy, and I think that’s what the team is done.”

That might be easy to say, of course, given that Sony has outsold Microsoft in each generation, if you’re strictly looking at console sales numbers. Spencer reiterates however that although console is definitely a piece of the pie, he doesn’t consider it a major measure of success for the company.

“We really think about the number of players that are playing on Xbox,” Spencer said. “How many people are on the platform on the service playing games I know specially this holiday with PlayStation launching and Xbox launching. I think some of the traditional measures will still try to be used by certain people of ‘how many Xbox are sold, how many PlayStations are sold.’ Inside of our team, we goal ourselves on how many players play on Xbox. That is our goal. We say on Xbox, it could be a PC player that’s a Game Pass subscriber who’s playing…

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