Microsoft’s Xbox One policy reversals prove it has the capability to “listen” and nothing more, says Spencer

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 21:34 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer has said the firm’s policy changes with Xbox One prove the firm has a “two-way conversation” with its customer base, and nothing more.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Spencer responded to SCE president and group CEO Andrew House’s gamecom comments by stating that “certain people” are trying to turn Microsoft’s policy reversals into “something that is a bad thing.”

Yesterday, during Sony’s gamescom press conference, House pointedly said regarding Sony and PS4: “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.”

Spencer said it’s nothing more than Microsoft proving it has the capability to “listen” and react to what its customer base wants.

“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,” Spencer said. 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

“Now, we have a vision, and we’ve stayed on that vision around the digital ecosystem we want to put on Xbox Live. 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.

“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.”

Xbox One is slated for release sometime this November in Europe and North America, with possible delays in other markets.


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  1. YoungZer0

    “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”


    #1 2 years ago
  2. machy

    why NO listen after Adam orth ”DEALwithIT”
    OooOor after the dam REVEL .. i call this BS whn ur system doing 70% lease then u competitor u gotta fire someONE and do some flip flops

    #2 2 years ago
  3. monkeygourmet

    Damage control : level 10 initiated…

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Djoenz

    Its about the reason why and when you guys listened. Even developers were bitching about your policies. Doesnt matter though you have chosen wisely, but its still iffy though. People arguing when you guys saw the amount of pre orders were not sufficient you had to do something…

    Still bravo for the gamers. :D
    Adam Orth pff what a douche…

    #4 2 years ago
  5. PenTaFH

    While I get that Microsoft has done these policy reversals for the customer, and I do appreciate that, I find myself uncertain about the commitments of Microsoft. Who says they won’t change things up again in a month? Who tells me they’re not just gonna silently inch in on their original DRM policies throughout this generation, like happened this generation with DLC?

    Where DLC (in the form of expansion packs) were huge additions to games ten years ago, and sometimes even free (take Unreal Tournament map packs for example), devs and pubs came up with smaller, less useful DLC packages for relatively high prices early on in this generation. Take the outrage over Oblivion’s Horse Armor for example. Nowadays, DLC like that is commonplace, expected even.

    The announcement of the DRM policies MS reversed was probably this generation’s horse armor. In five years, we’ll look back and ask ourselves ‘what happened? How did MS and Sony get this through to us?’.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. monkeygourmet



    Did you choose the most ‘smug’ picture possible? Or, are all executives ‘mug shots’ like this?! :)

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Lengendaryboss

    If you can read what you wrote, i’ll give you a cookie :)

    Topic: I’m just wondering why it took so long?

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Stephany Nunneley

    @6 LOL :D No, it was just the best resolution and newest one – the others looked like he was fresh out of college.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. ysleiro

    @PenTaFH #5

    While I don’t work there I believe the reason for the restrictions you mention was because they wanted to do “discs as a delivery method” for digital content.

    Had they gone with simply DIGITAL only then the need for such strong restrictions would not have existed.

    The problem was without restrictions we would be free to pass around a disc and install it on as many machines as we want.

    My 2 cents.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. bradk825

    The Sony guy was just being a dick. MS had a good showing at Gamescom so Sony had to go back to the post-e3 tactics of being dicks. They were selling themselves based on MS policies at that time instead of basing their pitch on anything they were doing that was new and interesting, which wasn’t much…

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Animeboy413

    bradk825, Time for you go to bed and leave Sony alone

    #11 2 years ago
  12. jeffb01

    To me, the microsoft reversals weren’t about listening, but defending themselves from open revolt. much like bank of america dropping the plan to charge customers $5/month for debit cards because of a huge backlash. Do you think BOA deserves your business because they’re such good listeners?

    #12 2 years ago
  13. ysleiro

    @11 It’s true though. It became their focus to wait and see just to pounce.

    Sony’s strategy has been quite conservative to be honest.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. pukem0n

    so a huge company listens to its customers and still all they do is bitch about it. interesting.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Abberjam

    The policy changes show that Microsoft REACT. Listening is something entirely different. If they were a company that ‘listened’ then they would have listened to the overwhelming negative reaction to the rumors that XBone would be always online and would remove/severely cripple the right of first sale and they would have at the very least come up with a more pro-consumer solution.
    If Microsoft was a company that listened, they would have put apps like Netflix OUTSIDE of the Gold paywall already. If Microsoft listened they would never have tried to launch the XBone that they originally tried to launch. They TOLD us what we wanted, they TOLD us what we needed, they TOLD us what was the future, they TOLD us to #DealWithIt even AFTER Orth-gate (E3 Don Mattrick) and when nobody pre-ordered their box, THEN they reacted.
    By stark contrast Sony ASKED developers what they wanted in a console, they ASKED developers what kind of controller they wanted, they ASKED developers to help build the system.
    These policy changes are not about listening to the consumer, they are about building pre-orders back up and rebuilding a massively damaged brand image with PR spin and half-hearted attempts to compete with innovations like PS+ Instant game collection. Moreover, everything they told us to justify the original XBone they showed later to be complete lies, such as not being able to “switch off” DRM, or the fact that Kinect was integral to the box at a system level.
    The changes Microsoft are making are positive, but they also serve to show that microsoft will lie to you, manipulate you and do whatever it takes to get your money.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Djoenz

    Best post I have seen in a while.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. SplatteredHouse

    Sony’s consistency from the outset. Their attitude and actions under the PlayStation brand, counts for a ton (they have demonstrated lessons have been learned and attitudes saw adjustment after PS3′s crater-maker of a landing), versus Microsoft’s half-baked about-face AFTER the core were left captive audience, throwing their lot into family friendly and kinect, and hoping third parties would bail them out, as home-grown talent crumble and dissipate…while they whack up the advertising to those already paying.
    Sony have also consistently maintained, actively managed and pushed community. A new extension of that idea can be seen in the relationships and attitudes as relates to indie development, that were formed, and still are being. Sony have maintained a broad, accessible range of titles and content. Microsoft jumps at trends, throwing their eggs into one basket after another – no wonder a few get broken!

    #17 2 years ago
  18. loci

    But But we told you before E3 and you told us to “Deal with it” and “Stick with 360″.
    Then we told you to f*ck off and didn’t pre-order.
    Poor pre-orders forced the change, nothing more, you slimy reptilian.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Abberjam

    @16 Thankyou sir :)

    #19 2 years ago
  20. monkeygourmet

    It’s funny as I see Sony and MS as exactly the same in their vision, just selling it to you in slightly different ways.

    Control for your front room and both devices want to be the only conduit for your media…

    #20 2 years ago
  21. ysleiro

    @15 @16 Yeah except by that logic Steam would have never even come into existence.

    If you are unwilling to take risks you will never know what your capabilities are. Had the Xbox shipped with a blu-ray drive (for movies and not games) and relied solely on downloading for it’s game delivery method we wouldn’t really be having this conversation.

    To each his own broski.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. SplatteredHouse

    @20 That’s an odd interpretation of a particularly games-centred presentation yesterday. Even the non-games announcements were regarding services improving network speeds for gaming, and Twitch TV incorporation – which broadcasts a large amount of game content. Are you sure you were watching the same conference!

    #22 2 years ago

    Have you ever seen honest spencer?

    #23 2 years ago
  24. fearmonkey

    @15 – Great post!! Totally agree.

    “Spencer said it’s nothing more than Microsoft proving it has the capability to “listen” and react to what its customer base wants”

    Let me fix that for you…

    “Spencer said it’s nothing more than Microsoft knowing it’s a** was getting handed to them in pre-orders and public perception and reacting now that Don “let them play 360″ Mattrick is gone.”

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Abberjam

    @20 While I agree that they have similar visions and goals, those “slightly different ways are important. One company wanted to bring their vision using as much dialogue, understanding and co-operation as possible. The other company wanted to achieve their vision by cornering it’s consumers. Those differing attitudes speak volumes.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. monkeygourmet


    Ha! Sorry, I meant overall goal.

    That’s why I don’t really buy into any of the PR bitching and sniping from company to company. They have exactly the same ultimate goal.

    For gamers, it just means choosing the device that suits them best (or both if you can / want too) and how intrusive those other features become to the games they like playing.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Abberjam

    @21 The “Steam” argument is an old and withered chestnut. Firstly the climate is entirely different now and there is plenty of competition to keep them honest and competitive. Secondly both Microsoft AND Sony continue to sell the majority of digital AAAs at a greater price than the high street despite the massive financial advantage to themselves of digital distribution. The current and long-standing trend shows that frankly neither corporation is interested in reducing new titles by a considerable amount in a digital “walled-garden” market.
    Any postulation that XBone was set to be a “Console Steam” is frankly a pipe dream.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. deadstoned

    But to be so out of touch in the first place to make the catastrophic fuck up shows alot. They knew they had to change, but not why.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Abberjam

    @28 I honestly believe that they just looked around their $5,000,000 mansions with 50MB connections and figured if XBone would work for them, it would work for everyone else.
    Digressing slightly, one question: If you walked into a car lot and saw Phil Spencer approaching, would you buy a used car from him? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Eury Spenta

    Don is a Zynga executive,has nothing to do with

    #30 2 years ago
  31. wally10975

    I applaud him for standing up for himself, but come on. You knew this was going to happen after what they did at E3. Pick yourself up, and move on. Don’t sink to the competition’s level and look childish. I’m a Sony lover, but I don’t agree with what Andrew House said and did. I knew it was going to happen in some way or another, but I was hoping inside that Sony would mature enough to stick to their guns, and not sink to school yard favortism levels.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. OlderGamer

    Really nailed it with post #15 Abberjam.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. sg1974

    @15 Post of the year contender.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. TF_PtMaster

    @15 well done

    I don’t think this statement (Phil Spencer) is entirely true.

    Many reps from Microsoft said in E3 week things like, keep playing 360, adapt, even when they were so full of confidence used Xbox and Xbox 360 to support all the changes.

    And when PS4 preorders sky-rocked they went dark and tried to find a solution for a 500€ device.

    They don’t listen to consumers, they listen to Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and company.

    But hey, this isn’t a bad thing. Xbox One is almost what i wanted, at least i will pay 100€ more to let Kinect in the box.

    Actually i think Andrew House, was kind childish, but we have assisted this kind of arguments in the last two months from each company. Like MS PR on monday stating “PS4 is only a more powerful PS3.”

    #34 2 years ago

    Are you kidding me ?
    He’s talking about Microsoft policy .
    If they are good listener why they didn’t listen to people before E3 an then after E3 xbox chief Don said this things.
    before E3 and in E3 all of them were deaf .

    #35 2 years ago
  36. Major Mayhem 70

    Microsoft had a vision for the next generation of gaming consoles. It was bold and way different than anything that us gamers have seen. It was too much change at once and the core gamers responded negatively to these new ideas. There was bad press, negative comments by consumers and preorders were scarce.
    Microsoft did a 180 to the majority of what it was trying accomplish in the first place. Does it really matter if the 180 was due to Microsoft listening to its customers or to the fact that sales for their system was sluggish? They’re both two in the same. Do you think that if sales were high yet the press kept reporting negative articles about the Xbox One that there would have been a 180? Of course not. Sales were down because people didn’t like the vision that Microsoft was selling. I would have to say that Microsoft listened to its customers. They are in a business to make money and if the money isn’t there find out why and fix it. Fix it they did.
    With that being said, I don’t believe we should stone Microsoft for trying something different. New ideas is why we have gone from playing a game with a knob (remember Pong anyone?) to playing games with a controller that has two sticks a D pad and more buttons than a dress shirt. We’ve gone from blocky graphics (Atari 2600) to games that if you walked in a room it took you a minute to realize that it wasn’t a real football game on the television, but Madden or Fifa (depending on what part of the globe you live defines which one you’d see on tv). Microsoft was trying write a new chapter to the evolution of gaming (while still trying to make money cause that’s what ALL companies do) but gamers didn’t want to read that story. Truth is, that story will be written in the near future. Digital gaming will happen. I believe both Sony and Microsoft will have to write this chapter simultaneously though but take their time writing it.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. sebastien rivas

    Yes Spencer you got it right to look at pre order and understand something went wrong from the beginning.
    Price tag still grinds my teeth though.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. polygem

    #15 +1

    still think i will get the x1 because it looks like it’ll be more fun to use.

    now call me a bitch.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. k1llabeast

    So damn true, Microsoft didn’t listen AT ALL. They indeed reacted, to not become a complete fail.

    #39 2 years ago
  40. bobnice

    Are we seriously going to sit here and debate and bitch about why and when the changed their policies to what the fans asked for??. Whe got what we wanted, who gives a shit why we got what we wanted or when we got what we wanted…because we got what we wanted. Who cares if theyre a business that wants to make money and if sales are down they give us what we want…theyre a business, theyre in it to make money. Do you want them to personally send each and every one of you an apology? Or maybe they should take you to dinner or baby sit for you… do you want them to personally knock on each of your doors and tell you “we change our policy because you’re our friends.” Who cares if they gave us what they wanted before e3 after e3 yesterday or today…the bottom line is when the console is sitting on store shelves it will have changed to the things we asked for. Stop crying over spilled milk. Stop acting like an abused wife or cheated girlfriend holding a grudge. Its a game machine, a 12″ x 12″ machine with a gamepad not a girlfriend or wife.. Were not married to microsoft or sony. Move on

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Major Mayhem 70

    That’s what I was trying to say Bobnice. But I said it nice and you just said it better😜

    #41 2 years ago
  42. Tyrantsoul

    This is actually true.People did not like their ideas,people complained,they changed to suit the customer.A good business practice to honest.

    It was rather cringe worthy when Sony took another shot at them at gamescom.Taking a shot because they listened seems low.Either way I am getting both consoles.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. Joe Musashi

    @36 People will happily take radical change. Look at what happened when Apple introduced its first tablet device. Look at the adoption. History was made.

    The difference is in how you convey your message. It wasn’t about consumers not liking change. It was about Microsoft being arrogant, inconsistent, contradictory and uncoordinated. (Most) people aren’t fools and quickly saw through that performance.

    They may have a good product. It may have ushered in a revolution. But Microsoft scored one of the biggest own goals in recent history because of their amateurish marketing and bullish over-confidence.

    No amount of spinning and blaming everyone else for Microsoft’s error’s will change that. It just becomes another aspect of the damage control brigade trying to alter facts.


    #43 2 years ago
  44. polygem

    #42 and # 43


    #44 2 years ago
  45. viralshag

    #40 & #42, +1

    What I don’t understand is this backing of Sony and their “consistency” in policy. The whole reason they “won” E3 was because of the surprising reveal about their policies being so opposite to MS. Up to that point, everyone was debating whether or not they would have DRM and/or allow used games to be played like MS. MS went one way and Sony the other, one was clearly the “better” path so MS changed their direction. Absolutely nothing wrong with that as a company, in fact having the ability to do so is better than not being able to do so.

    MS made a lot of errors when it came to the console announcement and the policies but at the end of the day, when people complained they changed the console to suit what people were asking for. The hows and whys, really are irrelevant.

    If you think Sony are any different, you’re being ridiculously naive. They’re simply better salesmen than MS.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. Abberjam

    @ #40 & #41
    It actually matters considerably as to “why” we got the changes. Attitude is a huge factor in corporate-customer relations.
    Not that the two are LITERALLY comparable, but Microsoft are following the pattern of an abusive and insecure spouse. Chocolates and flowers one day, smack in the face and chained to the house the next.
    We can acknowledge the changes by Microsoft and accept them, but believing them when they say “I’m doing this for you baby” simply continues the cycle and opens them up again to trying to introduce other restrictive anti-consumer practises. It teaches them that if they bring us a quick fix, all is forgiven and they can get back to thinking up new ways to screw us over. They need to be consistently held to task, they need to be treated with caution even in face of short-term knee-jerk solutions. Maybe these policy changes and more consumer-friendly attitude are genuine, but cow-towing at the click of a finger is not the way to see it through.
    I teach my kids that “sorry” is not a cover-all, it’s simply the first step of many in the process of reparation.
    If Microsoft are genuine then they have to accept that it takes more than a quick “Un-F**king” to set things straight. The changes so far are simply the band-aid to cover the wound, but now WE need THEM to prove they’re in this for the long-term before we put them in a position from which they could antagonize us again. A month or two is peanuts in a situation like this. We need to be looking AT LEAST 6 months from launch before we start settling back into a comfortable position with Microsoft and assuming that their statements are not corporate PR BS driven by ulterior motives.
    Again, look at Sony. They’re in it for the money too, they want to make profit too, but they are doing it by being honest with us and giving us what we want as much as practically possible. They even APOLOGOZED for making PS+ manditory for multiplayer but then went on to explain that it will create a much better online service and “by the way did you know we give away $100 worth of recent games with it every month?”
    They even came right out and said that they believe that digital is the future and they want to be ALL digital eventually, just like Microsoft wanted at E3, but the difference is that Sony realise that it has to be at the pace and choice of the CONSUMER. They will push the products and the services, but they will leave it to us to vote for them with our wallets.

    Microsoft want to make profit by forcing their half-baked restrictive and ultimately corporate-centric solutions on us. Instead of listening and being pro-active, they are REACTIVE to bad sales and bad rep AFTER the fact. Consequently we now have an XBone that no longer knows what it is, has no “Key demographic”, almost every systemic function like Game capture, streaming, apps like netflix are behind a $60 paywall and it has a non-manditory peripheral which is never the less a manditory purchase. With no F2P games currently announced and no indication whether they would require Gold, if you don’t sub to Gold then currently you will literally only be able to play single player games and watch TV/DVD

    Sony are PRO-ACTIVE, listening to the consumer base, being up front about their marketing model, giving in return for loyalty, reacting to consumer feedback and buying-trends BEFORE putting strategies in place and being comparitively very open and apologetic about the negatives that they sometimes bring. As a result we have a PS4 which is ground-breaking, community focused, consumer friendly and offers genuinely good value for money on just about every front. EVERY function is available without a PS+ subscription including multipayer on F2P games.

    So yes, the “WHY” is kind of important.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. Abberjam

    Adendum: In saying XBone currently has no F2P announced, I meant 3rd party. Killer Instinct is an in-house F2P though it is still unclear whether the online component will require Gold. Perhaps someone can clarify that?

    #47 2 years ago
  48. Lengendaryboss

    I can’t find a MS official stance on it but Gold is needed for F2P titles on Xbox One

    #48 2 years ago
  49. Abberjam

    @48 That’s a great catch. Thankyou sir.

    #49 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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