Phil Spencer clarifies comments on Xbox Upgrades

It’s been one of the talking points of last week in gaming circles. Did Phil Spencer really say that Xbox One or a future Xbox would be an upgradable PC box?  And what about all those Xbox games coming to PC?

In Major Nelson’s latest podcast, Spencer clarified what he meant by all the upgrade comments and why bringing games to PC is important.

Gears of War Remastered Ultimate was the first example of Xbox One games coming to PC. Phil was quick to remind us that it’s not the first game to come to the platform, the first Gears of War launched on PC as well as the 360.

Discussing the pre-order offer for Quantum Break, where a free Windows 10 copy is available for those who pre-order the Xbox One edition, Phil explained “Kicking off a new franchise we want as many people to play as possible.”, it’s a way of introducing Windows 10 gaming through Microsoft’s own store, to gamers who may have previously only used Steam as a gaming platform on PC.

Forza Motorsports Apex is the first Forza game on PC but Phil was quick to explain that it’s a different game to the Xbox One title. For a start, it’s free and cars are unlocked as you play.  There’s most likely some In Game Payment options for cars and tracks, though this is still to be defined.

“We build Windows. Success of gaming on Windows is incredibly important for us…success of Steam on Windows is incredibly important to us….I believe that having Microsoft taking gaming on PC as a really important endeavour for us, as a strategic endeavour, is great for Windows gaming.”

As for whether they’re just providing the same gaming experience on both platforms and watering down what Xbox can provide, Phil clarified the idea of bringing those Xbox titles to PC; “Now people will react ‘it’s the Xbox people and they’re trying to dumb down PC gaming’…I can say…we are about bringing the right PC experience.  People should not take us embracing PC gaming as us trying to bring the console game experience over to PC, they’re uniquely different in ways that we want to embrace both.

Major Nelson wanted to clarify the hardware comments by asking if we should expect new hardware soon.  Phil replied “I wanted to stand up in front of the room and explain that what we’re doing today, i think, makes the console ecosystem better..the end of a generation and this huge step function that happens is not something I embrace, I think it’s something we can do better. I see it in music, I see it in books, I see it in movies. When I buy digital content, that digital content stays with me and I’m able to use it when I go out and get new devices”

“The feedback I’ve received of “Hey, am I going to break open my console and start upgrading individual pieces?” That’s not a plan. There’s something special about what happens with a console. It’s not like I’m going to ship a screwdriver set with every console that comes out. What I’m saying is that as hardware innovations happen you want to be able to embrace those in the console space and make those available and maybe not have to wait 7 or 8 years.”

Are we going to see new hardware soon, then? “Right now we’re not announcing hardware, I’m happy with the console we have…but as a longer term vision statement I wanted to make sure people understood what we’re doing.”

So it’s not really any clearer as to what that vision is, precisely, just that somehow the next Xbox may have the ability to add hardware (probably externally, in a similar way to the current trend in laptop docking stations with built in graphics card upgrades, perhaps?).

It’s clear, though, that Microsoft are adapting in a difficult market and profit is essential to being able to provide new and innovative software and hardware.  If that means providing versions of Xbox One games to PC gamers or new games based on those franchises, or finding innovative ways to provide the next console, then that can only be a good thing.

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