Speaking to the Wall Street Journal about Microsoft’s recently agreed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Spencer described Xbox’s current competitors - including Sony, Nintendo, and Valve - as unlikely to disrupt the industry, but was more concerned that larger tech companies would muscle into the gaming space.
“Nintendo’s not going to do anything that damages gaming in the long run because that’s the business they’re in,” he said. “Sony is the same and I trust them… Valve’s the same way.
“When we look at the other big tech competitors for Microsoft: Google has search and Chrome, Amazon has shopping, Facebook has social, all these large-scale consumer businesses,” he added.
“The discussion we’ve had internally, where those things are important to those other tech companies for how many consumers they reach, gaming can be that for us.”
Spencer goes on to suggest that just as these other, larger tech companies have come to dominate their spaces by providing services across platforms to reach as many consumers as possible, Microsoft could seize the gaming space by setting its sights higher and reaching more players across the industry as a whole.
“I think we do have a unique point of view, which is not about how everything has to run on a single device or platform,” he said.
“That’s been the real turning point for us looking at gaming as a consumer opportunity that could have a similar impact on Microsoft that some of those other scale consumer businesses do for other big tech competitors.”
Analysis: better the devil you know
The idea that Silicon Valley tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon might soon be mainstays of the gaming industry won’t fill many with optimism. While the console war that’s been fought between Xbox, Sony and Nintendo for the past two decades hasn’t always acted in the interests of players, its replacement with a larger fight by bigger and hungrier companies may bode no better.
But it’s a fight we should expect, as the tech giants have made their interest in gaming clear for quite some time. Google made its first full-throttled pitch into the industry in 2019, with its cloud gaming console Stadia. A poor library of content, unimplemented features, and a miserly pricing model quickly stunted its appeal, however, and cloud gaming has since been picked up by Sony’s PlayStation Now, Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, and even Nvidia’s Geforce Now.
Amazon, meanwhile, had more success on the software side with the launch of hit MMORPG New World last year. Even then, it didn’t have an easy ride. The game suffered a dip in players soon after launch, and was released only after another Amazon game, Crucible, flopped the year before.
Spencer is right to expect larger firms to try to grab a piece of the ever-profitable gaming pie, but maybe he should be a tad more pessimistic about their ability to quickly do so. Neither Facebook, Amazon, nor Google have yet shown they can waltz into the industry on their first try. Don’t expect the Microsoft-Nintendo-Sony triumvirate to go anywhere anytime soon.
- Take a gander at the best Xbox Series X games out in the wild
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Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games.