Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer has hit back after Sony threw a punch at its Gamescom presentation yesterday, saying it’s not a bad thing to listen to consumers.
Gamescom became the latest round of the next-gen prize fight when SCE’s Andrew House closed the show by revealing the PlayStation 4 release date and poking fun at the recent Xbox One policy changes.
“While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining a message that is fair and in tune with consumer desires,” he said.
“We strove to deliver a platform that delivers both power and great value. And the response we’ve received has been nothing short of incredible.”
While some have seen Microsoft’s backtracking on such thing like constant connections, pre-owned restrictions, and self-publishing as a sign of weakness, Spencer tells Eurogamer that staying flexible to demand is anything but damning.
“The two-way conversation we have with our customers is a strength,” he said.
“Certain people have tried to turn that into something that’s a bad thing about what we’re trying to do, and I just disagree."
“That two-way conversation with gamers has to be core to who we are as a platform. And if we don’t have the capability of listening and reacting to what people are saying about our platform, then we’re being too disconnected from customers who make investments in our platform and the games we build.”
Microsoft hasn’t been just getting criticism from customers; those who say their reversals show a lack of courage also suggest they equate to shying away from the future.
The growth of digital distribution and online connections as an integral part of PC gaming has many feeling the same is inevitable – and desirable – for consoles.
Spencer agrees the future is digital, and denies that his company has backed away from it.
“Now, we have a vision, and we’ve stayed on that vision around the digital ecosystem we want to put on Xbox Live,” he said.
“It remains a core philosophy. We heard people valued some of the existing generation’s disc-based DRM, so we said we’re going to add that to the digital ecosystem we’re building.”
This probably means there are more policy clarifications inbound, but for now it just means delaying the “vision” Spencer claims his company has stayed true to.
“It meant some delays in some of the stuff around digital so we could fit in the time to get physical done at launch, but our vision remains the same,” Spencer explained.
“I look at that as just us having that two-way conversation with gamers. That has to be a strength.”