In a frank interview at the 2015 Geekwire Summit, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has given the clearest indication yet that he truly doesn’t know whether the Xbox One will ever be able to close the gap between Microsoft’s console and Sony’s PlayStation 4. As it stands, the PS4’s sales figures currently surpass the Xbox One’s by a large margin, and Spencer largely attributes the the gap to the poorly-received launch features of the console that were ultimately scrapped before release.
Spencer said the following when quizzed on the subject:
You know, I don’t know. You know, the length of the generation… They [Sony] have a huge lead and they have a good product. I love the content, the games line-up that we have.
One thing that probably I didn’t realise as much as I should have when I started in this role was the impact that the launch had on our team here in Redmond. Because it’s easy to read the blogs and the sites and my Twitter feed and see what the customers think of our brand and our product, but the team in Redmond took as much of a hit as the external community did around the launch. And I sit back and I think about an [organisation] of thousands of people, you’re down in the organisation and some words and some actions from executives kinda just trash all the work that you’ve done over the last three years, many weekends and nights, and you start to question why am I doing this? Why am I working so hard when a few crass comments can actually position our product more directly than any work that the team was doing?
Moreover, Spencer says that regaining the trust of the development team and engineers was one of his first priorities when taking over the job once filled by Don Matrick:
Every time I sit down and I do a product review, mostly every time, the team comes in with surprise and delight around the momentum that they have, more than I’m able to add. And when I see that transformation of a team that’s questioning the leadership of the organisation to a team that’s motivated by the customers that we have and their ability to delight them, I see a team that’s making amazing progress.
Lastly, Spencer touches on how Microsoft’s brand lost a lot of consumer trust with the original and controversial policies that the company had paired with the initial unveiling of the console:
Whether it’s always-on, used games, whatever the feature was, we lost the trust in them that they were at the centre of our decision-making process. Were we building a product for us, or were we building a product for the gamers? And as soon as that question came into people’s minds and they looked at anything, whether it was the power of our box, our launch line-up, microtransactions, any of the features that you talked about, what you find is very quickly you lose the benefit of the doubt. You lose your customer’s assumption that the reason you’re building your product is to delight them and not just build a better and more maybe manipulative product.
That’s a lot of info to digest, but what are your thoughts on Spencer’s comments? Do you think that Spencer’s efforts have and will help the Xbox One to close the sales deficit gap with the PlayStation 4, or do you think it’s already too late? Let us know in the comments below.