Phil Spencer: Xbox has changed some things about working with Activision

Phil Spencer Xbox 20 Celebration
Phil Spencer Xbox 20 Celebration (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Head of Xbox Phil Spencer noted in an interview with The New York Times that some things about the relationship of Xbox with Activision Blizzard have changed.
  • Spencer did not explain exactly what these changes were, adding that he isn't interested in "virtue-shaming" companies.
  • Activision Blizzard is still facing a lawsuit regarding allegations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment.

The initial lawsuit against Activision Blizzard and the escalation surrounding the event rapidly grew into one of the biggest gaming stories of 2021. Multiple leaders in the gaming industry, such as Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan and head of Xbox Phil Spencer, expressed concern regarding the situation in emails to employees. In an interview with The New York Times, Spencer further explained that Xbox has changed some things regarding how it works with Activision, though he didn't offer any other details.

"The work we do specifically with a partner like Activision is something that, obviously, I'm not going to talk publicly about," Spencer explained when asked about his prior comments. "We have changed how we do certain things with them, and they're aware of that. But I also — this isn't about, for us as Xbox, virtue-shaming other companies. Xbox's history is not spotless."

Spencer notably referenced an incident at GDC 2016, in which scantily-clad dancers were hired at a party. Spencer added that "At Xbox, I know who I'm accountable for here in terms of the business and the operations. It's my teams here, my management chain. And that's the thing that we continue to focus on, is to try to grow."

Moving away from Activision Blizzard, Spencer touched on other topics like the rise of the Metaverse, noting that he sees it as a natural extension of gaming.

"I think what we learned early in gaming is if you put players together in a virtual space, you can, one, level the playing field for everyone. Everybody feels equal. But yet, we can have our own identity, what my screen name is, what my character looks like," he says.

Spencer also confirmed that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are selling faster than any prior Xbox consoles, though demand continues to outstrip supply due to shortages caused by the pandemic, a shortage analysts predict won't get better in 2022.

"Supply is actually as big as it's ever been. It's that demand is exceeding the supply for all of us. At this point, we've sold more of this generation of Xboxes, which is Xbox Series X and S, than we had any previous version of Xboxes. So it's our job to get the supply there to meet that demand," Spencer says.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.