Xbox Boss Slams ‘Destructive’ Console Wars – And He’s Right

Xbox boss Phil Spencer speaks candidly about the 'destructive' console tribalism that exists between the most hardcore fans.

The tribalism that comes with console wars is still alive in the 'next generation' of gaming consoles. | Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

  • Microsoft’s executive vice-president of gaming Phil Spencer made an appearance on The Verge’s Decode podcast.
  • The Xbox head candidly describes console tribalism as ‘one of the worst things about our industry.’
  • According to Spencer, the focus should be on industry wide success rather than the failure of the perceived opposition’s product.

Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer shared some choice words on the phenomenon of console tribalism, which he condemns as ‘one of the worst things about our industry.’

In an appearance on The Verge’s Decoder podcast, Spencer talked candidly about the obsessive brand allegiance that permeates exchanges between the most hardcore PlayStation and Xbox fans. These often include abuse and harassment, morphing the threads below official social media announcements into toxic cesspits attracting the gaming community’s most unsavory characters.

For the Xbox boss, these discussions among fans, which often gravitate around devaluing the perceived opposition’s products to validate sinking hefty sums into their console of choice, verge on the destructive.

“Especially in the console space, there’s like a core of the core, that have, I think, taken it to a destructive level of, “I really want that to fail so the thing that I bought succeeds.” I’m saying on both sides. I’m not saying that it’s all people crushing Xboxes and everybody that loves Xbox is always completely inviting to all the PlayStation stuff. I’ve said before, that I find it distasteful, but maybe that is too light. I just really despise it. I don’t think we have to see others fail in order for us to achieve the goals. That’s not some kind of “kumbaya” thing. It’s actually real. We’re in the entertainment business. The biggest competitor we have is apathy over the products and services [and] games that we build.”

The launch of the next-gen consoles saw a resurgence of platform tribalism. | Source: Xbox/Microsoft

‘Off-Putting’ Xbox and PlayStation Tribalism

Spencer doubles down, suggesting that the focus should be on success across the industry and the collaborative efforts between respective platform holders.

“Everybody is doing well in the industry right now for the most part with the stay-at-home and the surge. That’s what we should be focused on as an industry. We’ve done it with things like cross-play and other things that we focused on breaking some of those tropes. But there is a core that just really hates the other consumer product. Man, that’s just so off-putting to me. Again, maybe that word is probably too light.”

Illustrative of his disdain for the industry’s tribalism, Spencer tellingly revealed that it is the one thing capable of instigating his departure from gaming if there ever was one.

Last modified: December 3, 2020 8:00 PM

Thomas Bardwell: UK-based writer covering the video game industry. Email me | Bug me on Twitter