Phil Spencer says Xbox is not trying to "out-console Sony or Nintendo," and "great games" alone won't solve its problems

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Xbox boss Phil Spencer disagrees with the sentiment that "if you just build great games, everything would turn around" for Microsoft's gaming brand, and more to the point, argues that Xbox is not trying to "out-console" PlayStation or Nintendo to begin with. 

In a lengthy interview with Kinda Funny, Spencer fielded concerns that the console experience has become less central to Xbox overall. He maintains that "the console is the core of the Xbox brand" but also insists that "we have to go off and do our own thing with Game Pass, with the stuff we do with [Xbox cloud gaming], and the way we build our games" because "there's not a win for Xbox in staying in the wake of somebody else."

"We're not in the business of out-consoling Sony or Nintendo," Spencer says. "There isn't really a great solution or win for us. I know that will upset a ton of people, but the truth of the matter is that when you're third place in the console marketplace and the top two players are as strong as they are and have, in certain cases, a very discrete focus on doing deals and other things that will make being Xbox hard - and that's on us, not on anybody else." Spencer appears to be taking a silent jab at PlayStation here, particularly its habit of buying up timed exclusives or paying "blocking rights" to keep certain games from coming to Game Pass, though that's just conjecture on my part. 

"I see commentary that if you just build great games, everything would turn around," Spencer adds. "It's just not true that if we go off and build great games, all of a sudden you're gonna see console share shift in some dramatic way ... This idea that if we just focus more on great games on our console, somehow we're gonna win the console race, I think doesn't really [match] the reality of most people, like 90% of the people every year who walk into a big retailer to buy a console, and are already a member of one of the three ecosystems." 

He points to Starfield, which is more important to Xbox than ever after Redfall's lukewarm launch, as a huge game that still won't dramatically affect the console market: "There's no world where Starfield's an 11/10 and people start selling their PS5s. That's not gonna happen." 

In the same interview, Spencer said he's also "disappointed" with Redfall but remains committed to improving the game through future updates. The Xbox boss also assured Starfield fans that Bethesda's sci-fi RPG won't run into the same problems, in part because it was integrated into the Xbox pipeline earlier in its development compared to Redfall. 

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Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.