Phil Spencer talks to the Verge/Decoder about Xbox; Game Pass deals; Games; xCloud via Smart TV; Halo delay; And loads more

[ Halo ] was a miss on our part. I wouldn’t change the decision based on the right game, [a] healthy situation for the team, and how they’re working. Absolutely, it’s something that we had planned for, Bonnie Ross who runs the studio and I, to have Halo there. In the long run, I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to get a better Halo game at a good time when people can actually get a console. I feel good about that. I think the game will be better for the time that we’re giving it. I’m incredibly excited about the lineup, not only of Xbox Game Studios, but we’ve obviously also announced our intent to acquire ZeniMax and Starfield and great games that Todd [Howard] and the team are working on, that people are going to go play on their Xbox.

I feel good, really good, the best I’ve ever felt about our roadmap. But yeah, it would have been really great to have Halo at launch.

I think you’re going to see [xCloud on Smart TVs] in the next 12 months. I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that. I thought what you said about the TV was spot on. What we used to call a TV was a CRT that’s just throwing an image on the back of a piece of glass that I’m looking at. Now, as you said, a TV is really more of a game console stuffed behind a screen that has an app platform and a Bluetooth stack and a streaming capability. Is it really a TV anymore or is it just the form and function of the devices that we used to have around our TV, consolidated into the one big screen that I’m looking at?


My wife and I, who both work in computer engineering, listened to the podcast and while I appreciate Phil’s honesty and wealth of knowledge, it was incredibly sad to see such irrelevant points and clear gaps of knowledge presented by Nilay. I mean, perhaps it’s because most of his time is spent on Apple stuff, but he works at The Verge and he should know better about a lot of the things he was wrong on whilst being rather arrogant and implying that he wasn’t.

Despite that, it was great to hear from Phil yet again.


I get incredibly annoyed by this with the gaming media and how most don’t even seem to have a basic grasp of the industry they report on. I don’t expect them to be an expert on the field, but I do expect them to have picked up what I consider basic knowledge just by reporting on the industry on a daily basis.


When he began with, “you’re a Microsoft lifer” I knew this was going to be shallow. Why not get Tom to conduct the interview at least? Whatever, mainstream media blows.


Precisely! I mean, it’s bad enough that someone who’s a fan of Apple complains about naming conventions, but keeping it within gaming, why is it that the same tired narrative and criticisms aren’t applied to Sony? I mean, let’s look at things holistically and you’ll see a near perfect analogy for everything, Sony has the PS5, the PS5 DE, PS Plus, the PS app, and PSNow. They’re not equally a platform in the same way Xbox Live isn’t an Xbox but Nilay treats and critiques them as such. It’s a tired, logically-flawed argument that we see levied against Microsoft and not their primary competitor, Sony. Hell, looking at the two manufacturers offerings, Apple and the wider tech market has conditioned us to know the differences primarily by naming and price, so you can look at an iPhone 12 vs the 12 Pro, and you’ll know immediately that due to the name and price the Pro is better. The S and X, are common naming hierarchies that describe the same, however the PS5 offers two identically capable machines from a power perspective and only separates them by the presence of a disc drive; that difference is actually the antithesis of the model for which customers have been conditioned, therefore inherently more likely to cause confusion than seeing a much cheaper, smaller box versus a larger, more expensive one. It’s really that simple, yet where are the articles about that, or why do we see these tired narratives of “confusion” levied at Xbox alone? I think the answer is simple, regardless of whether some want to admit that a clear bias exists.

Honestly, unless your naming scheme literally makes no sense, the tech industry shows that naming a product line is not the huge determinative factor that people place on it. I mean if we take a step back and look at the tech industry and how it name’s things it is a bit of a mess, but people manage just fine. So I don’t know why Nilay pays any attention to it because Microsoft themselves have been using the current naming scheme since 2017.

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Listened to it and don’t have any complaints lol

Just finished listening to the Podcast and damn, that was good. I definitely recommend everyone to have a listen since Phil talks about lots of important topics. The ratio between Series S and X, the Dualsense, how they approach developers to get games on Game Pass and lots of more interesting stuff.


Yea I love how he admitted their mistake with halo you do not see executives be that brutally honest thats why I like phil Spencer hes a legit gamer like all of us


But Xbox studios thread told me it’s not bad management and i don’t listen to other reasoning explanation when the reality is this mistake…

Yeah i agree this is good call on his part, his vision basically how to improve your self or how you reach better ground.

let’s hope 343I don’t let us down and deliver great Halo game

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I have the feeling it will be good don’t know why

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Really good podcast. The part about tribalism was on point.

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Yeah, people should just be happy we get to enjoy this cool hobby.


Looooong interview. A lot new facets talked about you did not hear before.

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Great interview. Great questions and interesting answers.

Loved this.

Didn’t like his answer regarding Game Pass deals with third parties though. I think a Spotify model is bad for the industry. The industry should build good games, not addiction machines.

Thought it was the meatiest interview Phil has been a part of in a long time. Had no issue with the questions of the interviewer. They have to thread that needle to ask questions for part of an audience that isn’t as engaged as us while there’s obviously things they cannot ask. Good topics and I thought Phil slipped a lot of interesting tidbits in there. Painted an exciting picture for the future of gaming for the division. I liked how he focused on the community. To me, the social aspects are gaming’s biggest strengths yet present its greatest opportunities.


I think we must’ve taken it differently. Lol. I liked what I heard when it came to Game Pass. Won’t ever resemble the biggest drawbacks of Spotify IMO. Biggest difference is the way creators can be discovered and financially rewarded.


Spotify provides discoverability and fixed revenue per stream (~0.03$ per stream) Gamepass provides more discoverability, fixed revenue through initial deal and revenue through sales and transactions leveraged due to the discoverability. The last point is a huge differentiator and probably a big part of the total revenue generated.

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I believe Spencer said he hopes the model moves more towards a model that doesn’t pay upfront. Which doesn’t have to mean bad things. You can have performance bonuses for having many players. This way games get rewarded for being good.

The other side is games could be rewarded for time spent in game, an important metric at Microsoft, which could lead to games being made to keep engagement up, instead of building a good game as the primary objective.

I like the current model, though I do see how it could be less interesting for the more famous indie devs, or developers who know they are working on a gem.