Microsoft games boss Spencer admits past PC mistakes but platform at "centre of decisions" Xbox firm is making

Microsoft games boss Spencer admits past PC mistakes but platform at "centre of decisions" Xbox firm is making

Head of games at Microsoft Phil Spencer has that the PC games audience at the heart of the decisions it is making as a company.

Speaking to PC Gamer, the exec conceded that the Big M hadn't always hit the mark when it came to the PC games market, but that moving forward it was hoping to appease this market.

Spencer also said that during 2019, the company will start to show off the changes it is making across its entire PC infrastructure.

"Delivering great gaming experience to PC players is critically important to the future of Xbox and gaming at Microsoft," he said, adding that the company has a "responsibility to invest in new ways we can benefit the PC player to help ensure they stay at the centre of the experience.

"While we are proud of our PC gaming heritage, we’ve made some mistakes along our journey. We know we have to move forward, informed by our past, with the unique wants, needs and challenges of the PC player at the centre of decisions we make. I know we’ve talked quite a bit over time about what we want to deliver for the player on PC, but at E3 this year, and throughout 2019, you’ll begin to see where we’ve been investing to deliver across Store, services, in Windows and in great games. It’s just the beginning."

Spencer has been very vocal about the fact it is trying to learn from its mistakes in the PC space. Given that the Big M is looking to create a platform without borders - looking to reach two billion users with its Game Pass subscription service - nailing the PC experience is a pretty significant part of whatever plan it has.

Pressed by PC Gamer as to whether future games from newly-acquired studios such as InXile and Obsidian - the latest purchases in Microsoft's 2018 spending spree - would be coming exclusively to the Windows Store, Spencer was somewhat evasive.

"It’s a good question and something we’ve spent a lot of time thinking through," he said.

"I expect us to share more details on our plans here soon."

Were we to speculate, that is code for Microsoft making changes to its storefront so that it isn't quite so loathed.

Finally, Spencer was asked about how to ensure its newly-emboldened developer portfolio - part of the rebranded Xbox Game Studios brand - was going to be safe, especially in the wake of the Big M shutting Lionhead in 2016, ten years after it bought the Fable maker.

"I’m very proud of the work that Microsoft and Lionhead did together on the Fable franchise," he said.

"It is always an incredibly difficult decision to close a studio or cancel a game. In every one of our past studio additions we’ve learned from the experience, from aligning on goals ahead of acquisition, to decisions on whether to relocate teams and/or retain existing organizational structures. That learning and planning has paid off when I think of Rare and Mojang."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.