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Console Tribalism is 'One of the Worst Things About Our Industry,' Says Phil Spencer

Console Tribalism is 'One of the Worst Things About Our Industry,' Says Phil Spencer - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 01 December 2020 / 3,159 Views

Microsoft and Sony launched to great success their next-generation consoles, the Xbox Series X and S, and PlayStation 5. The consoles quickly sold out in the majority of countries they launched in and the hardware manufacturers are trying to restock them as quickly as possible. 

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer in an interview with The Verge says he loves the gaming industry, but did say the tribalism is "one of the worst things about our industry."

"To be honest, I love the industry I’m in," said Spencer. "This is the job I love. My wife will tell me it’s the only job I’m qualified for, but this is definitely the job I love. But that tribalism in the industry, if there was anything that would ever drive me out of the industry, it’s actually that, what you’re talking about.

Console Tribalism is 'One of the Worst Things About Our Industry,' Says Phil Spencer

"I look at shipping a product, shipping a game, as one of the bravest things a team can do. You put your product out there, it gets analyzed and prodded and reviewed. It can’t defend itself. It’s an inanimate object. You can’t go on the internet and defend it. We’ve seen that way too many times. That never works.

"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.

"But 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.

Xbox Series X S

"We see that today. 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.

"To me, it’s one of the worst things about our industry."


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at wdangelo@vgchartz.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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74 Comments
SuperNintend0rk (on 24 November 2020)

I love that this comments section is full of tribalism. You guys do realize that you're just proving his point right??

  • +25
FloatingWaffles (on 24 November 2020)

LMAO let's be honest a lot of us probably already had an idea before opening this of who would be in these comments proving his point immediately and let's just say they did not fail to deliver

  • +14
TalonMan (on 25 November 2020)

I may be wrong (and I typically don't get involved in these comments), but I believe the manufacturers themselves are 100% responsible for any "tribalism"!! It's easy for Spencer to now talk about how much he "loves everyone", and how, "releasing consoles is brave" - but that's not the same song MS was singing when they first elbowed their way onto the console scene. They couldn't go one week without calling out Nintendo as "kiddie".

But this isn't a knock on MS (it only seem that way, since this article was started from comments made by an MS exec) - ALL of the console makers are guilty of creating this mindset!! And it started back with Sega's antagonistic marketing of "Sega does what Nintendon't" - that was the first shot across the bow, and it's been open season ever since. And to now sit there and chant, "Can't we all just get along?!?!?!" is disingenuous at best...

  • +10
VAMatt TalonMan (on 25 November 2020)

While I get what you're saying, I have to disagree. Console marketing from 15, 20, 30 years ago is not responsible for a bunch of teenagers and grown adults acting ridiculous and talking total nonsense trash in 2020. For at least the last decade, all of the console marketers have been friendly. They often talk about how they own and play each other's systems and games. They publicly congratulate each other at launches and milestones, and they often publicly condemn shit talking when it gets out of hand.

So, yeah, they all played into it in the past. But that's mostly the distant past. Grown ass adults cannot point to bad behavior decades ago to justify bad behavior now.

  • +1
pokoko TalonMan (on 25 November 2020)

You're not wrong. The history of videogames isn't about friendship and unicorns. Yamauchi and Nintendo wanted a monopoly through any means possible and tried to crush opposition with cutthroat tactics. Sony's entry into the industry came with mic drop ads from FF7 and Crash and an advertising blitz that directly targeted Nintendo. And Microsoft ... is Microsoft, a company with a long history of anti-consumer actions and buying out competition. Personally, I'll never forget the abomination known as "Games with Windows Live" or the ways they tried to control the PC gaming market before getting kicked in the teeth by Valve.

It's fine for Spencer to criticize such behavior now but he also need to acknowledge that the industry itself is partially responsible.

  • +6
TalonMan TalonMan (on 25 November 2020)

1 - It's great that I've actually gotten involved in a conversation here, because now I fully see for myself how SHITTY this code is. OMFG - I have no idea how you guys have managed to put up with this crap, and actually attempt to hold threads together in here! MASSIVE AMOUNT OF PROPS to all of you for putting up with this garbage... wow!

2 - It was only 5-6yrs ago this same Phil Spencer was comparing the WiiU to the Xbox 360. Of course, he was trying to spin it as a "positive" - saying how great it is for Nintendo to make something available to all those older gamers. But that was a 100% INSULT to all the WiiU buyers, and if you can't see, understand, and acknowledge that - then I'm not sure what more I can say. You can't try and convince me that "good ole Phil" wasn't intentionally taking a shot at Nintendo with that comment.

  • +5
VAMatt TalonMan (on 26 November 2020)

2) I vaguely recall the comment in question. But, I'm not sure that a single incident, even if somebody made a bad comment last week, means a whole lot. I don't think it's really in dispute that they are nearly always friendly with each other, at least in public forums, these days.

I will grant though that any shitty comment is a shitty comment, and certainly does not help things.

1) With respect to the difficulty holding conversations in here, you must see problems that I don't. This place certainly isn't perfect, but it works well enough..

  • +4
TalonMan TalonMan (on 26 November 2020)

1 - Well, you MUST have noticed I just made a change to the layout of these comments - they're now in a more "tree-like" format, so they're easier to read. The next part is to actually be able to reply to replies directly, rather than only being able to reply to the initial comment.

2 - That was just the first random comment I found - you think that's the one and only time he's guilty of crapping on a competitor?!?!?!? I'm sure I could find DOZENS if you wanted me to - that comment took me all of about 30 seconds to find, and I didn't even have to rely on Google - just searched the articles here on VGChartz.

  • +5
SuperNintend0rk TalonMan (on 26 November 2020)

@TalonMan Thank you for improving the layout of the comments. I find them much easier to read now. I personally don't mind not being able to reply directly to replies. I just include the person's username and that works well enough. I do have a request though: would it be possible for you to make all of the replies visible when you open an article so you don't have to click on "Show replies" for each post? Or at least include it as an option in Settings if you don't want it to be the default? I find this very annoying, especially when I go back to an older article to read new replies that have been posted. I don't know how difficult it would be for you to change but I'd really appreciate it if you could at least look into this. It would make my life so much easier!

  • +2
TalonMan TalonMan (on 26 November 2020)

Yeah - I'm definitely going to be changing a good bit of how this stuff works. I generally don't like clicking reply and not realizing it opened a comment box, halfway down the page!!!

Changes are coming - this layout stuff was just driving me CRAZY, and it was a quick enough fix that I felt it should be done immediately... :)

  • +11
SuperNintend0rk TalonMan (on 26 November 2020)

Awesome! I'm fine with comments that have lots of downvotes being hidden but it's annoying that I have to constantly click on "Show replies" in articles with a lot of comments. It would be great if you could change that.

  • +11
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SuperNintend0rk TalonMan (on 28 November 2020)

@TalonMan Thanks for listening to my feedback and changing how the comments are displayed. It probably seems like a pretty minor improvement but it's already making my life so much easier!

  • +5
javi741 (on 24 November 2020)

Damn alot of downvotes in this comment section lmao

  • +9
Imaginedvl javi741 (on 24 November 2020)

Well, he is right. Looks at this comment section... And all the downvotes, first instincts from some posters is to bitch Xbox... They did not even get that this is exactly what he is talking about, this behavior. The console wars is ruining the forums and all news section. A lot of fans thinks that hating and destroying the other brands is the way to love theirs... I don't get it. It is the same for others things like Apple vs PC/Android, etc. I just don't get why some people needs that to enjoy their own preferences.

  • +9
FloatingWaffles javi741 (on 24 November 2020)

@Imaginedvl

it's even more ridiculous because there is no better time than rn to be loving all three platforms since they're all hitting their stride and offering their own amazing things. nintendo has an incredibly unique system with the switch, microsoft is going all in and offering amazing value with gamepass, sony is pushing unique innovations with the dualsense, etc and all three are releasing amazing games. yet for some it's like instead of enjoying ALL this greatness they'd rather just limit themselves to one to fight for a company that doesn't give a fuck about them lmao.

  • +8
Bandorr (on 24 November 2020)

True. That's why I don't read anything greenburg posts.

  • +8
Sogreblute (on 24 November 2020)

Damn this comment section. It's fine to have a preference, but when you "fanboy" for the platform you play on then you just make actual gamers look bad.

  • +6
shikamaru317 (on 25 November 2020)

Phil Spencer really lives rent free in some of y'alls heads, lol.

  • +4
Original (on 24 November 2020)

Oh and what is wrong with this comment section

  • +4
160rmf (on 24 November 2020)

Totally Off topic, but I liked the color palette used for each console. The site could use for the 9th gen graph bars on the front page maybe?

  • +3
Chazore (on 24 November 2020)

I love how ya'll in the comments section just handed over the Win to Phil, while proving him right, even the one who's acting insanely snarky.

  • +3
miqdadi (on 25 November 2020)

He is right, I don't agree with Micro marketing plans for it's consoles, and I don't like how Sony builds its consoles avoiding risk with less innovation and I don't like how Nintendo used to treat 3rd party but in the end I end up owning all of them or the majority cos I want to play good games

  • +2
rapsuperstar31 (on 24 November 2020)

To an extent. Some healthy joking among friendly online folks isn't a big deal. Much like cheering for your home team, rooting for the console or consoles you chose to invest your time and money in seems fine to me.

  • +2
Eagle367 rapsuperstar31 (on 25 November 2020)

Well some people actually do that but some others take it a bit too far to be called ribbing

  • +6
TRU3_100 (on 27 November 2020)

Phil Spencer 2020:

"Sony and Nintendo are out of touch with the future of gaming, they are no longer our competitors"

"xbox series x is the most powerful console in the world"

"congratulations Sony on a strong game show but remember the games you showed will also be available on Series X, the most powerful console in the world"

"We dont car if Sony sells more PS5s than xbox, thats not what I want my team to focus on"

"Sony was the reason why we pushed forward with the Series S development, we knew they wouldnt be doing it"

"We dont need Playstation"

"We bought Bethesda and will determine if games will launch on other consoles on a game by game basis"

"games will perform and play best on xbox Series X"

"console tribalism is a problem in our industry and we play no part in it"

down vote me to hell but Phil Spencer is a fanboy himself only on a corporate level. Not only do all these statements he make contradict each other but they are literally what drives console flame wars. The self- proclaimed "superior performance" narrative he set for the Series X is the reason xbox fans wanted the Series X to outperform PS5 so bad and look how that turned out.

  • +1
method114 (on 24 November 2020)

It's especially bad for Xbox because they are the lowest selling console. So tribalism makes it harder for them to win people over. People are less reluctant because even if they are providing a better service people will dismiss it in favor or "their brand". I've always gone where the games go and thankfully MS has transitioned to PC as well so I'm covered.

  • 0
RolStoppable (on 25 November 2020)

I hate Xbox and I am proud to say it. I am not one of those wishy-washy people who try to disguise their hatred as a levelheaded and reasonable take on Microsoft's action in the gaming business. Although even Xbox fans would agree with me that selling physical versions of each Ori game on Switch for €40 a piece is robbery when the digital versions cost only half of that. It would have made so much more sense to put both games into one package and sell that for €40.

Papa Phil, you suck.

If this is how you treat me, a loyal customer who never bought your past products, then we aren't on good terms anymore. Today Sony won me as a customer, because they at least have the decency to not make anything that I consider worth buying.

  • -1
KratosLives (on 25 November 2020)

Well he is trying to conqer the gaming market, and wants gamepass to be the netflix of gaming. But more importantly, spence loves to talk and overhype things too much. He was so focussed on gamepass that he sat by while halo , the biggest game on xbox, turned to a disaster. Let's see how long it takes to series x starts getting quality exclusives, since he failed last gen through talk and hype.

  • -1
hunter_alien (on 24 November 2020)

So voting with our wallets, choosing the product that we think molds the industry in a better way, and pointing out product faults is now called "tribalism". Nice! I guess I learn something new every day. I wonder what the tune would be if MS would have managed to build a larger tribe in the last 7 years or so...

  • -1
Cerebralbore101 (on 24 November 2020)
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DonFerrari (on 24 November 2020)
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Tridrakious (on 24 November 2020)
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ClassicGamingWizzz (on 24 November 2020)
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Ayla (on 24 November 2020)
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JRPGfan (on 24 November 2020)
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Original (on 24 November 2020)
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AFattyGamer (on 24 November 2020)
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Tridrakious (on 24 November 2020)
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