Phil Spencer Once Proposed The Idea Of Shutting Xbox Down To Prioritize Mobile Gaming

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Story Highlights

  • Xbox CEO Phil Spencer has been seen tossing around the idea of shutting down the Xbox division to solely focus on mobile gaming.
  • The information was taken from a 2019 email exchange between Phil Spencer and Catherine Gluckstein.
  • The Xbox CEO has already announced earlier this year that Microsoft is planning on launching its own mobile app store.

Xbox CEO, Phil Spencer once suggested shutting down the Xbox division to solely focus on mobile gaming. The information was revealed in a row of confidential Microsoft emails that were made public by FTC during the court hearing a day ago. Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission are in a legal battle right now over Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

In an email from 2019, meant for Xbox president Catherine Gluckstein, the Xbox Chief Executive talked about potentially shutting down the Xbox division in favor of mobile gaming. Phil wrote he doesn’t believe they can organically take the lead in the mobile gaming race unless and until they shut Xbox down.

Phil Spencer's email to Xbox president
Phil Spencer’s email to Xbox president

Spencer on the one hand has always publicly shown his inclination toward mobile gaming platforms. Microsoft’s legal battle to acquire Activision Blizzard says a lot about the company’s interest in expelling the mobile gaming domain. Microsoft has also planned to rival Google and Apple on mobiles by launching their own app store. Phil said they intend to launch it as soon as next year if the $75bn Activision Blizzard deal gets cleared. 

We want to be in a position to offer Xbox and content from both us and our third-party partners across any screen where somebody would want to play, today, we can’t do that on mobile devices but we want to build towards a world that we think will be coming where those devices are opened up.”

-Phil Spencer in an interview with Financial Times.

Phil further said that Microsoft’s current lack of mobile games was an “obvious hole in our capability” that it needed Activision Blizzard to fill, he added. He further added that blockbuster games like Candy Crush Saga, Diablo Immortal, and Call of Duty would be “critically important” in enticing players away from Google and Apple-centered app markets towards the Microsoft store.

Moving back to Phil’s statement about terminating the Xbox console service, various perspectives emerge. One viewpoint suggests that the decision could stem from the significant lead of the mobile gaming market in 2019 compared to consoles. Alternatively, it could be speculated that Spencer has always had a bias for mobile gaming. 

Furthermore, several internal disclosures within Microsoft have come to light after FTC submitted Pandora’s box at the court. An old email has suggested that Microsoft also thought about shutting down “Day One” launches on Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft also reportedly wanted to “go spend Sony out of business,” stating how it is the only competitor to stand in its way.

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