The next time Microsoft sends Phil Spencer to a convention they should probably send a teleprompter along with him.
Rivalries are a fickle thing. Some last for generations and others seem to fizzle out at the first sign of defeat. What we saw during the weeks and months leading up to the next-gen launches of both the PS4 and Xbox One are a good example. Both sides spared no expense in not only touting the merits of their own systems, but tearing down their opponents as well. Now fast forward just a few months later, and we see executives singing a very different tune. While many expected it would be the Xbox One ruling the roost (with an earlier start out of the gate and slightly better games library), it turns out that Microsoft are the ones publically licking their wounds with Sony sitting pretty.
Which is exactly why you’ve recently heard those at Microsoft do a complete 180° in public.
Oh yeah, it’s almost embarrassing. A company who couldn’t wait to tout its plan to utterly crush the likes of Sony and its puny PS4, now has Phil Spencer giving speeches referring to the beating they're taking in stores as “healthy competition.” In fact, everything about Spencer’s attitude regarding the current lay of the land of the console market is very different. He not only has ceased beating the Microsoft drum of war, but is encouraging fans to go out and buy its competitors’ products! “There seems to be this…unhealthy dislike, for people who own the other console…being a fan of Xbox does not mean you… have to be an anti-fan of some other brand. At least I'm not. I own a PlayStation 4, I play games on a PlayStation 4. I own a Wii U, I play games on my Wii U. I learn a ton from what happens on those other platforms.” Spencer reveals. He even goes so far as to Monday morning quarterback last November’s launch window, singing the praises of Sony with every breath. He references the PS4’s release as “…a great launch,” only touting the Xbox One’s success in comparison to the 360 (not to their competitor).
I mean…Phil Spencer DOES remember he works for Microsoft right?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of petty fanboy who insists that you pick a side and never cross it under penalty of death. My problem is this rush to abandon their post and embrace this comfortable #2 position they seemingly find themselves in. And let’s face it: the Xbox One is likely to stay there for quite awhile. I was recently give some numbers that suggest the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One by a smooth 2:1 margin (6.1 million units worldwide vs. Xbox’s 3.7 million).
Now, I want you to wind the clocks back in your mind to fall of last year. Do you remember the kind of over-the-top vitriol coming from both camps? I sure do, as I was right in the middle of covering it on a daily basis. It was nothing short of a WWE level slugfest (or perhaps Jerry Springer if you prefer a white-trashier analogy). While Microsoft (with Spencer as their mouth piece) has decided to light a few candles and sit Indian style in a world of peace and love, I find my stomach turning. Sony has no problem criticizing Microsoft’s recent policies as of late, and they at least still have the balls to toot their own horn (that is, when they can wrestle it away from the lips of Spencer). Once Microsoft saw that it was impossible to back up their claims of console superiority, they basically turned into that guy who wants to be your best friend after you just kicked his ass in a street fight. Sheesh, have some dignity will ‘ya?
So why do I really care about the politics of a mulit-million dollar company like Microsoft?
Here’s what rubs me the wrong way. When a guy like Phil Spencer walks out in front of a crowd of people and singings the praises of his competitors (as if everything is equal and no distinctions should be drawn between them), you might as well fold up shop. If they really meant half the stuff they said during the Xbox One’s launch, they’d instead announce: “Yeah, we’re getting our ass kicked a little, but we’re still a better product. We’re Ali and PS4 is George Foreman. We will knock them out in the end!” But sadly, that’s not what we hear. Instead, we’re given this blasé attitude of; “We’re comfortable with our position in the market,” which suggests they’ve tapped out already. I guarantee if the sales figures were flipped, we’d be given a very different line from those at Microsoft, believe you me.
So I pose this question to Mr. Spencer: if we should all just go alone to get along, why the hell should I pick your product? Not the best way to justify that extra $100 on your price tag, is it?