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Xbox boss Spencer: 'wrong decisions' were made

Xbox boss Spencer: 'wrong decisions' were made

Microsoft's new Xbox division head Phil Spencer has admitted that 'the wrong decisions' were made prior to the launch of the Xbox One.

Microsoft's Xbox division has a new head, former Microsoft Game Studios leader Phil Spencer, and he's determined to get gamers back on-side following the competitively weaker launch of the Xbox One.

When Microsoft first showed off its next-generation console, many felt it had forgotten about its core demographic. Much fuss was made over the ability to watch TV through the console's HDMI input, while concerns about its requirement for an always-on internet connection to play even offline single-player games were dismissed. The public spoke, and Microsoft was forced to dramatically alter its plans with the dropping of the always-on requirement and the decision that the bundled Kinect sensor platform could be left disconnected from the console with no ill-effect.

Now, Spencer is eager to convince gamers that under his auspice lessons will be learned. 'There is a lot of learning that I did as a leader in the organisation,' he explained in a video interview with Microsoft's Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb, 'when I just heard how our message resonated with people and some of the decisions that we made, that I think were actually the wrong decisions, and we had to revisit those decisions.'

Describing the anger that gamers showed towards Microsoft at that time as being personally hurtful, Spencer has vowed that the division won't be making the same mistakes again. Calling the current sales of the Xbox One 'great' - despite Sony's PS4 considerably outselling its more expensive rival - Spencer described a future in which Xbox will be the key driver in Microsoft's rebirth 'as a consumer[-oriented] company.'

Missing from Spencer's interview responses were any reference to the company's plans for supporting PC gaming on its Windows platform. If you're curious as to how the new Xbox boss comes across on camera, the interview is embedded below.

31 Comments

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Guinevere 7th April 2014, 12:34 Quote
So this is a Microsoft exec interviewing another Microsoft exec...

Sure that sounds independent and not just a bit of self varnished well rehearsed publicity to bolster up a platform that is clearly not doing as well as they want.

Lighten up and open up a bit more guys and maybe your target audience will actually listen.

Allow boogie2988's Francis to interview a few execs and then colour me impressed.
Umbra 7th April 2014, 13:24 Quote
http://www.fazerfetish.eclipse.co.uk/xbox.jpg

Honest guv, one careful 10 year old owner and a full chipped history, runs like a goodun and never overheats...Well I wouldn't buy a used xbox from either of them
Hustler 7th April 2014, 14:54 Quote
So...the only mistakes you admit to making were on the software side.

As far as I'm concerned the real issue was/is the appalling GPU inside the box....when your brand new console is struggling to run anything at 1080p in 2014, you know wrong choices have been made somewhere.....here's looking at you Mr Don 'I love Kinnect' Mattrick.

Putting out a 2014 console with a 128bit memory interface, 68GB bandwidth..seriously!!!

And yes I know that the eSRAM was supposed to make up the shortfall on the PS4, but the fact is, 32MB just isn't enough of it, to do that job without serious sacrifices being made.
schmidtbag 7th April 2014, 16:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler
So...the only mistakes you admit to making were on the software side.

As far as I'm concerned the real issue was/is the appalling GPU inside the box....when your brand new console is struggling to run anything at 1080p in 2014, you know wrong choices have been made somewhere.....here's looking at you Mr Don 'I love Kinnect' Mattrick.

Putting out a 2014 console with a 128bit memory interface, 68GB bandwidth..seriously!!!

And yes I know that the eSRAM was supposed to make up the shortfall on the PS4, but the fact is, 32MB just isn't enough of it, to do that job without serious sacrifices being made.

I'm pretty sure the ESRAM is the only real problem. The hardware as a whole isn't too drastically different from PS4 yet I'm not aware of any PS4 titles limited to 720p (I'm not saying there aren't any, I just haven't heard of any). Not only was the ESRAM just a cheap way to solve a bigger issue, but it's difficult to develop for.
AlienwareAndy 7th April 2014, 17:46 Quote
Once the horse has bolted you've got a hard job on your hands bringing it back.......
Hustler 7th April 2014, 19:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
Not only was the ESRAM just a cheap way to solve a bigger issue, but it's difficult to develop for.

The only reason it's difficult to develop for is because it's too small...32MB just isn't enough to hold a 1080p frame buffer with nice amounts of shader effects and Anti Aliasing.

..it needed 64MB as an absolute minimum for it to do the job they were hoping for,

Of course it would have been cheaper to put in a PS4 level GPU than it would be to put 64MB of high speed eSRAM on the chip...DERP!!!
Stanley Tweedle 7th April 2014, 20:06 Quote
Microsoft made mistakes? WTF? I never imagined that could happen.
VipersGratitude 7th April 2014, 20:20 Quote
SOOKIE!!!!
fix-the-spade 7th April 2014, 20:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienwareAndy
Once the horse has bolted you've got a hard job on your hands bringing it back.......

Actually it's very easy, you just need a big enough carrot.

Speaking of which, let's start with $350 no-kinect edition please Microsoft.
Then lets move all the online features not connected to gaming (like Netflix etc) out from behind that XBL Gold paywall.
Then lets make the Game With Gold program something more than patronising lip service, how about Halo 4 and/or Anniversary as free downloadable Xbone titles.
Then let's subsidise the DLC pricing for Titanfall, half price for the season pass on Xbone.

That wouldn't necessarily motivate me to buy one, but it would make me look.
schmidtbag 7th April 2014, 20:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fix-the-spade
Actually it's very easy, you just need a big enough carrot.

Speaking of which, let's start with $350 no-kinect edition please Microsoft.
Then lets move all the online features not connected to gaming (like Netflix etc) out from behind that XBL Gold paywall.
Then lets make the Game With Gold program something more than patronising lip service, how about Halo 4 and/or Anniversary as free downloadable Xbone titles.
Then let's subsidise the DLC pricing for Titanfall, half price for the season pass on Xbone.

That wouldn't necessarily motivate me to buy one, but it would make me look.

What you're saying to do is equally as hard as finding the carrot that is big enough to bring back the horse. Removing kinect isn't an option - MS is trying to promote the kinect as something that separates it from PS4. They want exclusive titles to take advantage of it. So what are people going to do when they don't have a kinect but they buy a game that is just simply categorized as "xbox one compatible"? That becomes a serious pain in the ass for both developers and MS.

MS makes deals with companies like Netflix. Why do you think Netflix used Silverlight for so long? Including it is in the interest of both companies, and considering the massive amount of Netflix users, it only makes sense to include it. Keep in mind, I don't own an Xbox or a Netflix account.

Also, you clearly don't understand how capitalism works if you think they'd give away free titles. Unlike EA, MS isn't struggling with their games. The only reason they'd give away stuff for free is if customers start walking away. This wasn't possible when they were first trying to release the console with all those nasty "features" because at the time, there were no games to give away.


I fully understand your demands, but you aren't looking at this in the company's perspective. It seems to me you're best off being a PS4 customer, or, maybe you should just get a used XB1 without the kinect if you want the exclusives.
AlienwareAndy 7th April 2014, 21:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fix-the-spade
Actually it's very easy, you just need a big enough carrot.

What like under powered hardware?
fix-the-spade 7th April 2014, 22:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienwareAndy
What like under powered hardware?
Mr and Mrs average consumer know nothing about the hardware, they know the difference between $500 and $400 extremely well.
Glix 7th April 2014, 23:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fix-the-spade
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienwareAndy
What like under powered hardware?
Mr and Mrs average consumer know nothing about the hardware, they know the difference between $500 and $400 extremely well.

This. Funny how people forget the age old Nintendo tactic (Gamecube/Wii/3DS) of dropping the price to become competitive even though their RRP was a joke in comparison to the competition.
AlienwareAndy 8th April 2014, 00:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fix-the-spade
Mr and Mrs average consumer know nothing about the hardware, they know the difference between $500 and $400 extremely well.

If I were a kid right now and my parents bought me a Xbone over a PS4 I would disown them.
Gareth Halfacree 8th April 2014, 09:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienwareAndy
If I were a kid right now and my parents bought me a Xbone over a PS4 I would disown them.
If I were a kid right now and my parents bought me an Xbox One over a PS4, I'd be incredibly grateful for such an extravagant present. Not that it would be without precedent: I clearly remember one Xmas when I'd been dropping hints all year about getting a Sega Master System even though I really wanted the more powerful Mega Drive, 'cos I knew the Mega Drive was too expensive. Woke up, went downstairs, found my dad and sister playing Cool Spot on the Mega Drive; they'd managed to find a second-hand unit within reach. Best. Xmas. Ever.

Well, that or the Xmas when I got a Game Gear. Due to some shuffling of presents in Santa's sack, I ended up opening a carry case for the Game Gear before the Game Gear itself; didn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out what my main present was going to be!

Still got both the carry case and the Game Gear. Needs a bit of work, though; the screen's gone dodgy.
RichCreedy 8th April 2014, 09:18 Quote
the under powered hardware will get a boost, and possibly out perform ps4 when direct x 12 comes out.
Jim 8th April 2014, 09:19 Quote
I do remember the poor kid whose parents bought him a Dreamcast because the shop had run out of PlayStations. It may for all I know have been a great console but we all thought it was hilarious. He didn't get much joy out of the game swaps either.
Corky42 8th April 2014, 09:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Due to some shuffling of presents in Santa's sack

Why when i read that did i hear the voice of Frankie Howerd in my head :D
Nexxo 8th April 2014, 10:04 Quote
Oooooh, matron!
Jay88018 8th April 2014, 11:34 Quote
IMHO the main problem xbox one is always going to have is that the ps4 has the better GC. No amount of software upgrades are ever going to overcome the performance gap of the hareware, and as programmers get more used to both systems, and learn how to exploit them, the ps4 will always have that extra performance, same as the memory bandwith difference, gddr5 will always outperform ddr3. People who know about hardware will go for the ps4, and people who don't care will go for the cheapest.
loftie 8th April 2014, 12:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay88018
People who know about hardware will go for a PC, and people who don't care will go for the cheapest.

FTFY :D
xaser04 8th April 2014, 12:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler


Putting out a 2014 console with a 128bit memory interface, 68GB bandwidth..seriously!!!

Give the Xbox One is running (G?)DDR3, the memory interface must be 256bit, otherwise 68GB/s (which is a known figure) would not be possible given the memory speeds available.

The GPU itself is a weak link but as long as the developers know what they are doing it can still perform well enough. Cross platform games with similar levels of developer attention will always perform better on the PS4 as long as they arn't CPU bottlenecked (the otherwise identical Xbox One CPU runs at 1.73Ghz vs the 1.6Ghz in the PS4).

For me what matters are the games. I want to see new IP's and new takes on already existing ones (Halo for example). I want the processing power of both consoles to put to use to actually make the games "Feel" next gen rather than just look better.
Corky42 8th April 2014, 12:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay88018
IMHO the main problem xbox one is always going to have is that the ps4 has the better GC. No amount of software upgrades are ever going to overcome the performance gap of the hareware, and as programmers get more used to both systems, and learn how to exploit them, the ps4 will always have that extra performance, same as the memory bandwith difference, gddr5 will always outperform ddr3. People who know about hardware will go for the ps4, and people who don't care will go for the cheapest.

I wouldn't be so sure of the "No amount of software upgrades are ever going to overcome the performance gap of the hardware" comment.

New game-changing update will double Xbox One performance.
Quote:
At Build 2014 last week, Microsoft announced DirectX 12, a new software pack that’s supposed to significantly improve the graphics performance of all sorts of devices and a new report suggests that with DirectX 12 on board, the Xbox One will deliver twice the performance it’s currently capable of offering.
Jay88018 8th April 2014, 14:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by loftie
FTFY :D

Im ashamed to say I had to google that to know what it ment :( Your version is better thought :D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
I wouldn't be so sure of the "No amount of software upgrades are ever going to overcome the performance gap of the hardware" comment.

New game-changing update will double Xbox One performance.

From what I understand ( im no expert) most of the improvements come from better use of the multi-cores ( heat build up may be a future problem tho ) to spread the load out giving the gpu more resources to work its voodoo magic. Only problem I can see is since its not released until 2015, this might give Sony another year to upgrade the openGL software on their machine. Direct X 12 looks greats for the pc though.

Does anybody know when/if the Xbox one is ment to be getting support to run old 360 games ? Its my sons birthday in june, being able to still use his old games would be a major plus when it comes to buying. Cheers folks
xaser04 8th April 2014, 14:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay88018


Does anybody know when/if the Xbox one is ment to be getting support to run old 360 games ? Its my sons birthday in june, being able to still use his old games would be a major plus when it comes to buying. Cheers folks

Unless they announce some kind of streaming service - never. The One (and PS4 for that matter) are not powerful enough to emulate their predecessors (CPU wise at least).

You would be better off keeping the 360 in the interim (I don't think anything has been announced on the Microsoft side).
fix-the-spade 9th April 2014, 01:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
I wouldn't be so sure of the "No amount of software upgrades are ever going to overcome the performance gap of the hardware" comment.]

So under a very specific benchmark it's going to 'double' it's score, then it'll overheat and brick itself.

I think this can be filed under Microsoft's promises of 1080p at 60fps, Xbox Cloud improving your game's graphics, Kinect revolutionising the gaming industry and Falcon fixing the RRoD.

At best it's blind optimism, at worst it's cynical airy marketing speak, the reality is somewhere in between.
Vallachia 9th April 2014, 03:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
I'm pretty sure the ESRAM is the only real problem. The hardware as a whole isn't too drastically different from PS4 yet I'm not aware of any PS4 titles limited to 720p (I'm not saying there aren't any, I just haven't heard of any). Not only was the ESRAM just a cheap way to solve a bigger issue, but it's difficult to develop for.

While architecturally there are a lot of similarities, there are three major differences:
PS4 increases shader count by 50%
PS4 increases GPU bandwidth by close to 250%
PS4 increases ROP count by 100%

Those really do count as 'drastically different'. If you've ever done any graphics programming, it quickly becomes clear that you cannot have enough GPU memory bandwidth. The PS4's GDDR5 on a 256bit bus is on par with modern high-end PC graphics cards for bandwidth. Xbone is languishing in the low-mid part of the market, and the eSRAM does not change that (there is simply not enough of it to hold every intermediate buffer needed for a modern deferred-rendering game engine).

ROP count directly affects pixel fill rate, and 16 is generally not seen as enough for 1080p at 60fps. In the PC gfx card market, only low and low-mid cards have 16 ROPs.
Vallachia 9th April 2014, 03:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by loftie
People who know about hardware will go for a PC, and people who don't care will go for the cheapest.

People who know about hardware, but also want to play those console exclusive games, will go for both a PC and a PS4 :D
Corky42 9th April 2014, 09:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fix-the-spade
So under a very specific benchmark it's going to 'double' it's score, then it'll overheat and brick itself.

I think this can be filed under Microsoft's promises of 1080p at 60fps, Xbox Cloud improving your game's graphics, Kinect revolutionising the gaming industry and Falcon fixing the RRoD.

At best it's blind optimism, at worst it's cynical airy marketing speak, the reality is somewhere in between.

I mostly agree. It probably is under certain conditions, but i don't agree with the overheating and bricking it's self or that it's airy marketing speak, well not entirely anyway :)

I can't see Microsoft wanting a repeat of the RRoD debacle, so i fully expect them to implement throttling if that isn't part of the XB1 already. It's also not unknown for Microsoft to wave large amounts of cash around to get people to talk up their latest tech, but in this case the advantage that DX12 brings is being praised by the vast majority (AMD, Intel and NVIDIA)

Even if it is Microsoft talking up the XB1 they still have the biggest advantage in that they control the API that is used by the vast majority of games, even the PS4 uses a modified version of DX11.2 Is Microsoft going to allow Sony to use a modified version of DX12, who knows.

IMHO the sooner we can move away from propitiatory API's the better as all they do is hold back innovation, it has taken Mantle to finally push Microsoft into adopting what dev's have been asking for all this time.
Gareth Halfacree 9th April 2014, 11:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
[...] even the PS4 uses a modified version of DX11.2
No, it doesn't. That particular urban legend stems from a Sony marketing type missing out a vital phrase from his spiel: he said "DirectX 11.1+" when he meant "DirectX 11.1+ feature set," i.e. you can do anything you could do under DirectX using the PS4's own APIs and more. The PS4 does not use DirectX in any way; it has its own API, based on an extended version of OpenGL. I repeat for clarity: the PS4 does not, has not and will not ever support DirectX of any flavour.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Is Microsoft going to allow Sony to use a modified version of DX12, who knows.
No; see above.

If you're curious as to what the PS4 really uses, there's a reasonably accessible interview covering the API over 'ere.
Corky42 9th April 2014, 12:44 Quote
I stand corrected, i was going on what was claimed around the time of the launch.

Reading up some more it seems it uses two API's GNM for low level stuff, and GNMX that wraps around GNM to offer a familiar API if you're used to platforms like D3D11.

Although i cant find any info saying GNM or GNMX is based on an extended version of OpenGL, but i guess that would make sense seeing as the PS4 runs a fork of FreeBSD.

Does that mean Sony would have an interest, or benefit from SteamOS succeeding in making gaming a more attractive option on Linux ? Or is GNM/GNMX so far removed from OpenGL now as to not make any difference.
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