The head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, is confident of not just how the Xbox Series X stacks up against the PS5, but also its approach of putting the customer first this generation. In an interview with IGN, Spencer shared that after watching Mark Cerny’s PS5 specs reveal, he felt optimistic about the choices made for the Series X and that he had learned from mistakes made in the past to do with how the Xbox One was launched.
“I felt really good about how Series X lines up,” Spencer said. "I think Mark and the team did some really good work on the audio processing that they’ve talked about, their SSD technology is impressive — we saw the work that they did. We took a holistic view on our platform from CPU to GPU to RAM to throughput, velocity architecture latency, backwards compatibility — it took us years to get to this point. The planning takes a long time, so I will definitely have respect for any platform team that’s launching.
"But when we finally saw [Sony’s] public disclosure, I felt even better about the choices that we made about our platform, and I kind of expected I would.
“The hardware team under Liz that did the One S, Xbox One X, I just have a lot of confidence in them. If I give them the time and the targets to go hit, I believe in their ability to create a great end-to-end program.”
There are still plenty of things that need to be revealed about the Series X, including the price, and of course, games. When asked if Spencer was worried about the price point in regards to competitors, Spencer says he’s learned a lot from Xbox One launch and that he is confident in Xbox’s plan . “I feel good about the price we are going to be able to get to,” Spencer said. “I feel good about the price and the performance capabilities that we have with Series X. I just feel incredibly strong about the overall package.”
“We will definitely be continuing to keep our eyes wide open as we go towards launch and looking at what the competition is doing. We feel very solid about our plan. I believe we have a plan that can win — we’ve gotta go execute — but I feel really good about the plan we’ve put together.”
When the Xbox One was unveiled in 2013, Xbox came under heavy criticism for not only its $499 price point but also its anti-consumerist stance on game ownership. Games could only be licensed to players and not sold. If you were to purchase a disc, it didn’t necessarily mean you’d actually own the game — you wouldn’t have been allowed to sell the game on, or loan it to friends. Luckily, Microsoft backtracked on its digital rights management policy before launch. However, the One still remained with its Kinect bundle at the costly $499 price point. Spencer says he’s learned from past mistakes from the Xbox One, “I don’t think it’s just about price,” Spencer said. "You’ve gotta have an offering that meets the needs of the customers you want, and in many cases, exceeds the needs of what they expect.
"We’re out there kind of breaking some of the traditional tropes that are in the console gaming space because we’re trying to put the customer at the centre. It’s about allowing people to play the best versions of their games and respecting the purchases that they’ve made with us.
“Many people probably forget, but when we launched Xbox One, you couldn’t talk to Xbox 360 [players] on Xbox Live. We didn’t support your digital library when you moved. The digital relationships and friendships that you had — you weren’t able to maintain those relationships. You talk about my learning — it’s respect of gamer. I’d much rather be a cooperative part of the growth of this business, rather than create our little walled garden and that our content should only be ours, or people shouldn’t be able to experience the games they’ve purchased from us on their newest hardware that they have.”
Xbox has shown that they are putting the customer first this generation. With features such as Smart Delivery, the brilliant Xbox Game Pass and cross-generational backwards compatibility — not only with games but with controllers too — shows the steps that the company and Spencer are taking to create an inclusive Xbox ecosphere. One thing that does remain, however, is the price point for the Series X. We recently spoke to a market analyst who believes that the console will be priced around $400 - $500, and anything higher than that would be a major psychological hurdle for the consumer.