Xbox Head Phil Spencer has a reputation for candidness and transparency, but it's still odd seeing him do an interview from his living room. Spencer is the guest on the latest episode of the Unlocked podcast, and while chatting with IGN's Ryan McCaffrey about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spencer says he thinks the Xbox Series X will make its Holiday 2020 launch even if a high profile title like Halo Infinite ends up being delayed.
Spencer and McCaffrey both call in from their respective homes for the podcast, and in light of the global crisis and its effect on all our work practices, they open the show by launching into how it has affected the Series X's rollout and developers working on Xbox titles. "Safety and security of the team" come first regarding the Series X's launch date, Spencer notes, but he also says the supply chains in China that the Series X will rely on are spinning back up. His bigger delay concerns are with software, including games developed by studios that are adjusting to work from home.
"Obviously, the big one you'd think about is Halo," says Spencer. "It's so iconic with the launch. Bonnie [Ross] and the team are doing a really good job on Halo Infinite right now and they're staying on top of the issues. They're learning as well, like we all are. We'll go in eyes wide open on what we're trying to get done, but I don't think we would hold the launch of the platform for any individual game.
"I think we just have to be very transparent with people on where we are and how we're trending, which is something we've tried to do from the beginning of this platform," Spencer adds.
Halo Infinite's developers 343 Industries transitioned to remote work a few weeks ago along with the rest of Microsoft's Seattle-area workforce. We've seen very little of Infinite so far, and there have also been some prominent departures from 343 since Halo's latest showing at E3 2019.
As for the software the console itself needs—the Series X's operating system and services like Xbox Live and Game Pass—Spencer would be hesitant to launch without it in lock-step with the hardware. "I think, for us, hardware and system-and-service software, those two things have to stay linked," he says. "I don't want to ship a piece of hardware where the platform's not completely there. I'll just laugh and say maybe we've done that before. We're not going to do that again."
Spencer also tells IGN that he's only more confident about how the Xbox Series X stacks up against the PlayStation 5 after the recent technical presentation delivered by Sony's Lead System Architect Mark Cerny: "I will definitely have respect for any platform team that's launching—it just takes a lot of work. But I will say, when we finally saw the public disclosure, I felt even better about the choices that we made on our platform, and I kind of expected that I would."
In the interview, Spencer also explains the decision to exclude an optical audio port on the Series X, talks more about Microsoft's vision for the xCloud streaming service, and weighs in on the fates of a few dormant first-party IPs. The full interview is available on Unlocked's YouTube channel.
For more on the Xbox Series X, check out USgamer's five big takeaways from the recent full specs reveal that our sister site Digital Foundry put together.