Xbox’s Phil Spencer Reflects on Activision Deal and Redfall’s Troubled Launch

Xbox head Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, addressed the current state of Xbox in the latest episode of the Kinda Funny Xcast published earlier today. It’s been a difficult week for Xbox following the UK’s decision to block Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal. And to make things worse, Redfall, the latest Xbox-exclusive game from Bethesda received poor reviews.

Regarding the situation in the UK, Spencer reiterated that Microsoft still plans to appeal the CMA’s decision, and the exec made his disappointment clear. According to Spencer, the CMA has a biased vision of the cloud gaming market, which is still negligible compared to the console market.

“The CMA decision was disappointing, I’ve been talking to that group for coming up on a year,” Spencer said. “They’ve defined a market of cloud gaming that in my mind doesn’t really exist yet today, but they have a point of view that maybe we have a lead in a market that is just forming and that this content could somehow prohibit others from competing in that market.”

Moving on to the disappointing reviews for Redfall, a game that was released in an unpolished state despite being delayed, Spencer acknowledged that this shouldn’t have happened. The exec also promised to make changes to the Xbox game production pipeline to make sure these things don’t happen again, though this is something we’ve already heard before.

“There’s nothing that’s more difficult for me than disappointing the Xbox community, and just to watch the community lose confidence, be disappointed, I’m disappointed, I’m upset with myself,” Spencer said. “We’ll revisit our process, back to the announcement of 60 fps, and then we weren’t shipping 60 fps, that was our punch in the chin, rightfully, a couple of weeks ago.”

To be fair, Microsoft kept a hands-off approach with Redfall, a game that was in development before Microsoft acquired Bethesda/Zenimax. This company also continues to operate semi-independently, and Spencer said that it’s important to give creative teams the freedom they need to create great games.

“We’ve got games coming every quarter that I think will surprise and delight our customers,” Spencer said. In June, all eyes will be on Starfield, Bethesda’s much-anticipated sci-fi RPG that will get its own live stream right after Microsoft’s Xbox Games Showcase on June 11.

Even though there’s a lot of pressure on Bethesda to finally deliver a critically-acclaimed game for the Xbox ecosystem, Phil Spencer acknowledged that Microsoft is playing a different game than its competitors in the console space. “We lost the worst generation to lose, where everybody built their digital library of games,” Spencer said, referring to the Xbox One/PS4 generation. “There’s no world where Starfield is 11/10 and people start selling their PS5s,” the exec added.

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