Xbox chief Phil Spencer downplays Xbox-PC unification plans

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Microsoft has arguably never been good at marketing or navigating a narrative around public relations regarding most of its services or hardware. With the company’s Xbox announcements revealed earlier this week, it seems that once again, it’s the speculation about what Microsoft isn’t saying that journalist would rather run with than what was actually shared.

Perhaps having learned a financially and reputation-costly lesson from the previous head of the Xbox division, new Xbox lead Phil Spencer has quickly reached out to several sources to clear up any possible confusion that may still be lingering from some misinterpretation about the divisions announcements last week. Where some reports may have presumed that Microsoft was looking to commingle its Windows 10 and Xbox gaming paradigms into an amalgamation that could threaten the company’s standalone console business, Spencer says that simply isn’t true.

I wouldn’t say our strategy is to unify, because when I hear ‘unify’ I worry a bit that people will interpret, my own teams included, ‘Hey, we just want to say a game is a game and all games should run everywhere.”

While seemingly contradictory to the Xbox team hinting at the division between console gaming and PC specifications shortening in the near future, Spencer further clarifies the distinct advantages that gamers of either experience when playing their device of choice.

The other thing is the play space itself. I’m usually closer to my monitor, it’s a smaller screen. All these are ‘usually’s. And my TV experience on a console, I’m further away, it’s more of a communal play experience. But the console experience is a dedicated gaming hardware device that is very appliance-like, instant on, ability to basically do one thing, which is play games, very well.”

Phil Spencer
Phil Spencer at Xbox Event

Furthermore, Spencer also believes that not every game translates across devices, and that paradigm will probably continue to exist for some time. Using the newly announced Forza 6 for PC as an example, while the game is being offered as a PC port from the Xbox, it isn’t indicative of how a racing franchise is typically produced or played on PC.

Perhaps, Spencer and the Xbox team are cleverly hedging their bets that at some point in the future, the lines that separate PC and console gaming eventually blur. In a future where a AAA game spans devices as easily as an app in an app store is still a long way off, until then, Spencer is saying the Xbox console isn’t going anywhere.