E3 2018 changed my perspective on Microsoft a little bit. I was impressed with the number of games they have put out for the Xbox One, had reasonable praise for their online service, and praised Phil Spencer’s work on turning the Xbox brand around. Like many of you, I am still cautiously optimistic about Microsoft, but unlike Sony, I am willing to give them the benefit of a doubt.
The main reason why I’m willing to give Xbox the benefit of a doubt for now is Phil Spencer. I’ve studied him closely over the past year and I can tell that he’s trying to emulate some of Nintendo’s business practices to try and turn Xbox around. It’s very clear that Spencer wants to save the Xbox brand from oblivion and make it profitable. Under his regime, Microsoft has expanded their gaming division and invested more in 1st and 2nd party development, instead of relying fully on 3rd party support. Sure, even under Steve Ballmer’s reign, Microsoft had (and still does have) strong 1st party support, with franchises like Halo and Forza, but before Spencer came along, Microsoft was relying on 3rd party support as much as Sony was.
But that has changed. As I stated in my previous article, the new Phil Spencer-run Xbox division has acquired multiple development studios – Ninja Theory, Playground Games (the developers of Forza Horizon 4), Undead Labs. Plus, they have created a new development studio in California called The Initiative.
Spencer has shown that he is not interested in bribing/paying off/moneyhatting 3rd party developers for support like Sony does. He’s also getting very wary of Sony’s tactics to secure the most 3rd party support, and also seems to have noticed how Sony is trying to hurt Microsoft too:
Also from that Forbes article: “Spencer seems to be drawing the line between a time delay, ie. Xbox getting DLC a month early for The Division, and exclusive content, like these items drawn up specifically for PlayStation in Destiny. That content is supposed to arrive in the game for Xbox players a year later, but sometimes it just never shows up (Xbox Destiny is still missing many PS exclusives even with the sequel three months away). It makes the game worse for everyone with those maps/weapons/missions unable to show up in the rotating special activities of the game for both groups because of the lopsided access.”
However, Spencer might also have a second plan to save Xbox. It has to do with the new head of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, and his interest in the Cloud.
Now, onto another topic. If Spencer wants to have a fighting chance at saving the Xbox brand, he’s gonna have to pull off a miracle. It’s probably not impossible for him, but it will be tough. What am I getting at? Well, there’s one country where Microsoft has never had success. It’s the country that Nintendo and Sony have had a lock on since the 90s:
Yes, Spencer will have to try and make Xbox popular in Japan. And now he has a chance to make it happen. Yes, Microsoft has shown off damn good Japanese 3rd party support at E3 2018, and Spencer has been having talks with major Japanese developers to support Xbox more and promote the brand in Japan. And now he has a chance to steal a good chunk of Sony’s Japanese support.
Sony’s oppressive new censorship policy has forced Japanese 3rd party publishers to censor their own games heavily, even in Japan. Some of those Japanese developers who have been affected by this policy are jumping ship to the Switch. And Spencer should also jump in on the action ASAP and persuade Japanese developers who have been effected by this policy to start developing for the Xbox One and it’s successor. Microsoft, if you want to be heavily represented in the Japanese gaming market, you better do it NOW. This is the best chance you have.
Of course, with Spencer turning Xbox around, expect the gaming media to turn on them for the worse. Don’t be surprised if they end up getting shafted as badly as Nintendo does.
Yes, Microsoft has always been shat on ever since they entered the industry. Though it’s mainly been Sony fanboys attacking them, the gaming media has even shat on them numerous times, and Establishment Nintendo fans (who are basically Nintendo-only fanboys. Ex: Playeressence) have too.
One of the more prominent YouTubers who have attacked Microsoft is a popular sports YouTuber named EatDatPussy445 (aka EDP445). I am NOT making that name up.
EDP is a sports YouTuber who mainly does videos on his favorite NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Though most Eagles fans turn to him for typical doom and gloom, he powerlevels about why he gets fired from jobs all the damn time and why Women won’t fuck him. Not joking.
Why do YouTubers, Sony fanboys and Establishment Nintendo fans always have to shit all over any sign of good news about Xbox, even though this Xbox turnaround looks legit? Shit like this is killing gaming, and it’s why I can’t stand the mainstream gaming community at times.
Sorry, folks. Your time is up. You’re the past, we’re the future. 😉
However, we should still acknowledge that Microsoft still has some kinks that it has to work out. Microsoft was unable to work with Hideki Kamiya during the whole Scalebound debacle. The game has been put on indefinite hold and it’s unlikely that he’ll work with Microsoft again.
But let’s look at the bigger picture here. It’s not a “Microsoft vs. Nintendo” issue or a “Microsoft vs. Nintendo & Sony” issue. It’s an authenticity issue. This is about the High Priests of gaming culture (the gaming media and community, certain 3rd parties, etc.) PANICKING, that one of their own is slowly swaying away from the party line and making changes for the better. And I’m not the only one who realizes this.
Spencer has also been a massive critic of the mainstream gaming community, and has called for the toxicity that has existed in the community for decades to end.
Spencer also has a lot of respect for Nintendo, and has requested that Banjo and Kazooie be included in Smash Bros. Ultimate, and he got his wish. And both him and Reggie Fils-Aime have called out Sony for not allowing crossplay for Fortnite.
And yes, Spencer’s changes to Xbox is partly motivated by increased sales and profits. Phil Spencer may not be the most intelligent or eloquent vehicle for this message, but he’s getting the message across like no one else could. And it’s why I still have faith in him, even if some of it is cautious optimism.