Going All In - A Phil Spencer Interview


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Sep 11, 2013
in front of a screen

A few months later, Spencer took over as head of Xbox. Whatever jubilation he felt was short-lived; a few weeks into the job, he got a call from Satya Nadella... 'I don't actually know a whole lot about why we're in gaming,' Nadella told him... Many developers who had worked on the Xbox One felt let down by Microsoft's big vision; it was, as some told Spencer, not in line with 'the soul' of what Xbox was. 'Satya was transparent that there could be a future where gaming isn't a business that Microsoft should be in,' Spencer told me... He looked at where Xbox had failed, and how the brand could be saved — if at all. When he finally called Nadella back, it was to say this: 'If we're going to stay in the gaming space, then let's make sure we're all-in. The last thing I wanted to do was run the gaming organization here as kind of an afterthought of the company and kind of half-in, half-out. Let's go fix who we are.

He pushed Nadella to acquire... Minecraft, for $2.5 billion — a move that gave Microsoft exclusive control over the most popular game in the world... Microsoft announced the game would continue to be available on all platforms, including those of its direct competitors. It was an unprecedented move for a publisher of Microsoft's size. 'One of the first calls we got after the Minecraft acquisition was from Sony saying, 'Are you going to pull it off PlayStation?',' Spencer said. 'And I'm like, 'Why would I do that? People like playing it on PlayStation.'