Xbox Boss Phil Spencer: "The Business is Not How Many Consoles You Sell"

Xbox Boss Phil Spencer: "The Business is Not How Many Consoles You Sell"

Spencer says you shouldn't worry about the hardware side of things.

Xbox has been turning a lot of heads by announcing new subscription services like Game Pass and putting its first-party games on other platforms. Some might see this as a detriment to Microsoft's console business, but Xbox boss Phil Spencer says the business isn't even in hardware.

"The business is selling software and services. The business is not how many consoles you sell," Spencer says in an interview with Kotaku. "The consoles are not where the profit in this side of the business is made, which is where the whole: 'Who's selling more consoes' at any one time as the kind of root good of who is doing well in the business is just not true."

Xbox seems to be taking a software approach, especially in the last few years, as it pushes its services like Game Pass and Xbox Live as its primary products. First-party Xbox Studio games are available on Game Pass day one, and smaller Xbox exclusives like Cuphead were released on the Nintendo Switch along with Xbox Live support. Microsoft is also acquiring many more studios to help support both of those software services.

But that doesn't mean Microsoft is abandoning its Xbox console anytime soon, or that it will become a developer-only studio that releases its games on the PS4. At E3 2019 Spencer announced Project Scarlett, the next-gen Xbox console. And later in the interview Spencer reiterates the value of having a native platform for its services.

"So, today, people are saying: 'Are you going third party?' Whatever that means. But the idea that we are a platform company continues to be true, and we think about how that platform infrastructure could grow. And we think having the world's most powerful console, having a great Xbox in the home, is a critical component of that."

It seems that Spencer is saying that Xbox can now be considered a network of platforms that range from physical hardware consoles, to services available on PC. And with xCloud that network will grow to include mobile devices as well. But all the games and subscriptions will still be considered part of an Xbox platform.

We'll have to see how far this network will extend when Scarlett comes out in holiday 2020. For more news, check out our Microsoft E3 recap.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

Related articles

Publishers Are Embracing Games as a Disservice

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Take-Two offered an ugly peek at the future with NBA 2K21.

Gears 5's Next-Gen Update Will Let You Swap John DiMaggio's Marcus For Dave Bautista

This is cool for Bautista but… maybe a bit weird for long-time Gears actor DiMaggio?

Xbox Game Pass Streaming Sticks Are a Possibility, Phil Spencer Says

Spencer says he thinks we're "going to see lower priced hardware" in the Xbox ecosystem in the future.

Apex Legends Heads to Steam Next Month, Switch Version Delayed to 2021

The start of Season 7 will mark Apex's Steam debut.

You may also like

Hearthstone Is Playing the Hits As It Revamps the Way Players Earn Their Cards

Blizzard wants to make free progression less inscrutable and intimidating.

Crown Tundra's Dynamax Adventures Is Teaching Me to Love Loser Pokemon

You're guaranteed to make new Poke-friends in Sword and Shield's Crown Tundra DLC. (Still, stay away from Stunfisk.)

Ghost of Tsushima: Legends Makes Live Service Launches Look Easy

The free update is pretty damn good from a company that doesn't do a ton of multiplater.