During a recent interview, Xbox boss Phil Spencer discussed the upcoming acquisition of Activision Blizzard, his view on the metaverse, and his thoughts on how Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation share a “long-term ambition” for the industry.
Phil Spencer spoke to Bloomberg about how he “feels good about the progress” that Microsoft has made with the deal, along with his thoughts on how Xbox’s “long-term growth trajectory” is strong even with people putting in less gaming hours after the pandemic.
Phil Spencer shared his thoughts on Microsoft’s upcoming acquisition of Activision Blizzard
When asked about the status of Microsoft’s acquisition, Spencer says, “Big deals should be scrutinised… I feel good about the progress that we’ve been making, asking good hard questions about, ‘OK, what is our intent. What does this mean. If you play it out over five years is this constricting the market.’ I feel good about it.” Last November, reports suggested that Spencer was “evaluating” the relationship with Activision Blizzard after new allegations against Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick. Now, when asked if Kotick will stay on, Spencer simply says, “I’m not in a position to make comments about that… like when the deal closes, then we have a say in how they’re managed and how it goes. But until that point, I’m not really in a position to say.”
Spencer also mentioned that the amount of hours spent playing games in general has come down a bit since the pandemic — “which I will say I think is a good thing, people should get outside,” Spencer jokes. “People should moderate.” Yet he adds that “Long-term growth trajectory for the business is incredibly durable and strong. You have adults now that have grown up playing like myself and it’s become a more normal part of how people entertain and how families spend time. As the economy has tightened for consumers as gas prices are higher, people are worried about what their home economic situation looks like. We’re seeing gameplay hours kind of stay strong. I think from a value perspective gaming is a good value for people at a time of kind of economic constriction.” As for the supply of Xbox stores that will be available to buy, Spencer adds, “I still think demand will outstrip supply for us this holiday. We’ll see. When we get into 2023 you’ll start to see more. That supply is catching up with demand…” although we do know that there are no plans for an Xbox Series X|S price increase following Sony’s PS5 hike.
Spencer covered a range of topics — while discussing the metaverse, he explained, “my view on the metaverse is gamers have been in the metaverse for 30 years… because we have shared purpose it’s not at all surprising to me that gamers might look at metaverse and think ‘well, I don’t really get it because… I already have an avatar of myself and I can already go into a shared world and I can already sit there and have voice conversations with people anywhere.’ But I do think the skills that we have as game designers and game creators make a ton of sense in a lot of enterprise experiences.” He touched on the topic of play-to-earn, saying, “play to earn specifically is something I’m cautious about.”
The relationship between Sony, Xbox, and Nintendo is often in discussion, and Spencer says, “We have a pretty big publishing footprint on PlayStation as well as Nintendo, which means we have good relationships with those platforms because they’re a big part of our business and we’re a big part of their business. I think our long term ambition of where we see this industry growing is also shared. I think the area where if things get stuck a little bit, it’s in the kind of near or mid-term competition,” he continues. “If somebody walks into a store and they have one five hundred dollar bill they’re either going to walk out with a Switch, which is what most people buy, or they’re going to walk out with a PlayStation 5 or they’re going to walk out with an Xbox… but in that world of somebody who’s got to make a decision for one platform over another in the beginning, that is where I think we get stuck in some of the kind of near-term competition. I don’t think that’s bad. It’s just the dynamic of each of us pushing each other to build the best product for our customers.”
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