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News  11, Apr 2014

What you need to know about the new Head of Xbox

In an interview that details his 26-year career, Phil Spencer talks about his favourite game, view on indie games and vision for Xbox One

We reported a while back that long-time Microsoft Games Studio Chief Phil Spencer was promoted to the Head of Xbox. Beyond his shirt-changing and suit-donning presence at last year’s Xbox One reveal and Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013 presentation, not many people know much about the man.

That is until Microsoft released a brief video solely about his time at Microsoft and what big plans he has for the Xbox brand. It’s a follow-up to a previous video Microsoft did when he was appointed with the role.

So what have we learned about Phil Spencer apart from his great taste in fashion?

- He’s been at Microsoft for 26 years, starting out as a software development intern. He’s never left the company and feels that he’s taken on many different roles and work experiences throughout his tenure. It’s pretty apt, considering that the company has a history of changing up staff member roles after a few years.

- His favorite game of all time is Voodoo Vince, an obscure 3D platformer where the main character is a voodoo doll who has to injure himself to solve puzzles. It was the first game that he and his daughters completed together. Even though he’s worked on Halo and Gears of War, he feels that it’s the experiences and memories he has with his loved ones that makes a game great. Also, he’s a fan of the game’s soundtrack.

Also Read: Ultra Street Fighter IV arcade version out in Asia on April 17

- His most fondly-remembered moment when at Microsoft was the launch of Xbox Live. “We launched this console. There was this port at the back which was going to be activated later. We had all these games lined up like NFL Fever, MechAssault and Halo 2; things we knew that were going rely on Xbox One. But we really didn’t know that Xbox Live was going to turn into what it is today. And that feedback loop that you found between the game creators and the console and the platform team; it’s what I’m striving for now in bringing all those teams together.  To create those moments where the creators are impacting the platform, the platform is pushing onto the creators.”

- His vision for the Xbox One moving forward is to do things that change the entertainment world. “[Microsoft] has the resource and ambition to do that, whether that’s with Xbox or any of the projects that we build. We have the ambition to build the best gaming console for fans. The gaming console that plays the best games, that has the best entertainment, and to be in a company that has, again, the resource, the ambition and the drive to go make that happen, it’s incredibly motivating to someone like me.”

- If you went into Phil’s office right now, there will be a huge poster of the indie title Limbo behind his desk. Whether he genuinely loves indie games or it’s a method to show that Xbox is still going ahead with its indie push, is up in the air.

- He teased an unannounced game for this year’s E3 on June 10 – 12; the title is said to have a “fantastic setting” and “soulful” feel to it. Perhaps his love for indie titles may not be so much of a marketing spiel at all.

While all that is good, let’s hope that he and his Xbox team launches the Xbox One and its barrage of games in Southeast Asia on the promised date. 

Jonathan Toyad

Jonathan Toyad

If you want an elaborate answer on who would win in a fight between Ultraman and Godzilla, Jonathan Toyad is your man. A six-year veteran in the game journalism industry, he did words and videos for outlets such as GameSpot, GameAxis, IGN and Stuff.TV. Fears coyotes and scorched earths.

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