Microsoft and Sony are often considered direct rivals in the game space, competing for players through new consoles and exclusive games. Brand loyalty and “console wars” for some players dictates whether they’ll grab a PlayStation or Xbox. Extreme fans have even escalated their affinity for one over the other into harassment. But Microsoft’s real threat isn’t Sony, Nintendo, or any other company, says Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer. “We’re in the entertainment business. The biggest competitor we have is apathy over the products and services, games that we build,” he says.
Speaking to The Verge, Spencer says he finds toxic brand loyalty to be distasteful and despises the idea that companies like Microsoft “have to see others fail” in order to achieve their goals. “That tribalism in the industry, if there was anything that would ever drive me out of the industry, it’s actually that,” Spencer says. “When a team releases something into the market for … the world to tear it apart on the internet, it’s just such a brave thing for a team to do. I’m never going to vote against any creative team or any product team to do poorly because I have a competitive product. It’s not in me. I don’t actually think it helps us in the long run in the industry.”
Instead, Spencer says it’s more important to focus on how the industry is doing well as a whole. He points to advancements like crossplay — where players can jump into the same games with friends on any console — as ways the company has worked against these tropes of bitter competition.
“But there is a core that just really hates the other consumer product,” Spencer says. “Man, that’s just so off-putting to me … To me, it’s one of the worst things about our industry.”