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Phil Spencer Says Xbox Live and Kinect are Some of Xbox's Biggest Contributions to the Industry

Phil Spencer Says Xbox Live and Kinect are Some of Xbox's Biggest Contributions to the Industry - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 08 December 2021 / 1,702 Views

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer in an interview in the latest issue of Edge magazine (and transcribed by VideoGamesChronicle) was asked what he thought were the biggest contributions Xbox had brought to the video game industry. 

Spencer said creating Xbox Live on the original Xbox and making it standard on Xbox 360 was one of the best examples. He also cited Kinect as another contribution. However, he knows motion controls aren't for everyone.

"Was motion control the way everybody should play every game? I’d say the answer to that is no, in my view," Spencer did admit. 

"Prior to that, it’s not like everything was M-rated games, but when we started doing things like Kinect Sports and things from other developers – [like Double Fine‘s] Happy Action Theatre and the dance games –that really opened our eyes to the breadth of what the Xbox could be."

Spencer did say Kinect was a stepping stone for making Xbox more accessible for those with disabilities. 

"I look at the accessibility work that we’ve done – whether it’s the Adaptive Controller or software work that we’ve done – and I think you can draw direct lines back to Kinect," said Spencer. "Not specifically the device itself, but just about what a gaming platform can mean to more people. And that’s a journey we’re still on."

Kinect launched for the Xbox 360 in November 2010, with an improved version of Kinect released alongside the Xbox One in November 2013.


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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73 Comments
aTokenYeti (on 08 December 2021)

Reading the article it seems like his point about the Kinect was more that it had a huge influence on Xbox more than the games industry as a whole.

That being said, Xbox Live and the inclusion of an Ethernet port on the original Xbox was one of the single most consequential decisions in the history of gaming consoles. It’s one of those things where in hindsight we all assume online gaming as obvious but at the time it was not.

  • +16
method114 aTokenYeti (on 08 December 2021)

Dreamcast had online gaming before it. Consoles were headed in that direction from that point on. PSO was amazing on Dreamcast.

  • +6
DonFerrari method114 (on 08 December 2021)

Seganet go all the gay to even Genesis. PS2 had the modem and MMORPG. PC already had online gaming since the dawn of internet as well.

  • +5
method114 DonFerrari (on 08 December 2021)

Lol wow I completely forgot about Seganet thanks for that. Had no idea PS2 had a modem though. I knew about PC as that is where I started my online gaming.

  • +4
scrapking method114 (on 08 December 2021)

The modem was optional for the OG PS2 (perhaps it was standard equipment in the Slim, I'd have to look that up). And it was a true modem, not a broadband connection.

  • +4
JackHandy scrapking (on 08 December 2021)

The PS2 adapter had both inputs, a regular phone jack and a broadband port. I know, because I have one and I just checked lol. It came with a disc that you had to use to set it up, if I remember correctly.

  • +9
scrapking JackHandy (on 08 December 2021)

Ah, good tip. :)

  • 0
DonFerrari method114 (on 09 December 2021)

I had a PS2 fat, so I can only confirm about that, there was a slot where you could fit a modem and HDD on it. So yes PS3 was always going to have internet within it as well =]

  • +3
scrapking DonFerrari (on 08 December 2021)

Right, but even the PC was behind what Xbox Live was offering, at least as far back as the early days of the Xbox 360. Xbox Live's innovation was how comprehensive and ubiquitous it was. On the PC you often used one service for match-making, another for voice chat, etc. You were stitching together services to have all the functionality you wanted and/or to connect with all the people you wanted to connect with.

SegaNet doesn't go back to the Genesis. There was the Sega Channel for downloading games, and there was a third-party online play service for both the Genesis and the SNES. Sega's first online play offering was on the Saturn, and was exceedingly basic.

PS2 online ditto had no ubiquity or comprehensiveness.

Comparing PS2, SegaNet, etc., to Xbox Live is like saying the Model T had driving before modern cars. Well, sure, they did. But they didn't have driver aids, back-up cameras, air bags, etc. It wasn't even remotely the same experience.

  • +4
DonFerrari scrapking (on 09 December 2021)

Sure I can agree with you that no console before the Xbox had a service on par with Live, but can't really agree on Live being that big of a contribution since it was natural way, as people said before the contribution Live gave was charging for online and perhaps some features that it brought.

Who do you think is more credited for influencing automobile industry the first car with combustion engine (I think it was a Mercedes-Benz), Model T for making serial assembly and popularizing cars, or choose any modern car because it have eletrical car aid, cameras, etc?

  • 0
LudicrousSpeed DonFerrari (on 09 December 2021)

Sega charged before MS did.

You people are missing the forest for the trees. No one is saying or implying that MS invented online play with Xbox Live. But it's foolish to ignore the effect it had on the industry. Sony now has PSN, Nintendo has Nintendo Online or whatever it is called. All with similar feature sets to Xbox Live, all requiring monthly or yearly fees.

I personally moved from being a massive Sony fan during the PS2 era to playing mostly on Xbox from 360 and on just because their network is so much better. And the others still trail behind. It was a massive gift to the industry.

  • -6
scrapking LudicrousSpeed (on 11 December 2021)

Did Sega charge for online play? Or for internet access? I thought Sega was charging for internet access, but online play was "free" if you used your own? I definitely played online on Dreamcast using my own internet access, and don't remember paying Sega anything to do so.

But maybe I've got it wrong, this is my memory of an experience from 20 years ago! :)

  • 0
LudicrousSpeed scrapking (on 11 December 2021)

It was free for most of the DC life time but right before the end, they started charging for online play on their own titles. You needed a Sega account, for example, to play NFL2K2 online. But Quake or Unreal, no.

  • 0
Leynos DonFerrari (on 09 December 2021)

Famicom and Atari had the ability to go online. Super Famicom as well. It's kinda funny but EVERY single Nintendo home console has been online. Street Fighter II from Capcom supported Xband. N64 had DLC with Mario Studio DD. Dreamcast had DLC with Skies of Arcadia and more. SEGA Channel and Super Famicom Satliview had basically cloud gaming.

  • +5
scrapking Leynos (on 11 December 2021)

Intellivision in the early '80s had a "Sega Channel" like service through some cable providers that let you download games to the console, too.

What Microsoft did was take these different experiences and make them better, and make them ubiquitous.

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aTokenYeti method114 (on 08 December 2021)

This is true, but there were also cars before the Model T. The other console manufacturers treated online play as a little side diversion, Microsoft made it the focal point of the console for both the Xbox and Xbox 360.

  • +4
scrapking method114 (on 08 December 2021)

I played online on the Dreamcast. SegaNet was NO Xbox Live. The innovations of Xbox Live are numerous. PSO had no voice chat. There was no cross-game anything (no parties, no cross-game invites, etc.). If someone wasn't in the game you were in, you couldn't even see that they were online. In that sense, SegaNet wasn't a service in the way we think of online services like Xbox Live and PSN today.

  • +4
LudicrousSpeed (on 08 December 2021)

The Kinect part, reading the quote, seems like he was including Kinect more in the sense that it triggered a movement in the company to make their stuff more accessible. Not really the device itself.

XBL is an obvious gift to the industry. Imagine if all the consoles still had Dreamcast or PS2 online setups where every game had different features and usernames.

  • +12
scrapking LudicrousSpeed (on 08 December 2021)

Yeah, good point. I'd list the Xbox Adaptive Controller as a very positive philosophical descendant of Kinect, in fact.

  • +4
ClassicGamingWizzz (on 09 December 2021)

"phill spenser says ...." article number 953 of 2021, we still have 3 weeks to reach 1000, i thini we can manage, we just need a article for every responsw of a question of this interview,.milk it baby

  • +11
SanAndreasX ClassicGamingWizzz (on 09 December 2021)

“Phil Spencer’farts - Report”

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2zosteven (on 08 December 2021)

Kinect was huge on X360 add on, Disaster on X1 as the forced it upon us. Wonder what the sales could have been for the X1 if an option from the start or after launch?

  • +11
V-r0cK (on 08 December 2021)

Didn't Xbox Live start the trend to forced gamers to pay extra just to play online when just having internet wasn't enough? lol That aside, they definitely helped changed the online gaming world on consoles for the better so I agree.

  • +6
scrapking V-r0cK (on 08 December 2021)

Yes, Xbox Live did that. In exchange for that, it pioneered the idea of a ubiquitous and comprehensive online service. Back in those days, PC gamers typically used several services simultaneously to get all the functionality that Xbox Live offered in one service. And if you were gaming on Sega, Sony, or Nintendo, you simply didn't have an Xbox Live-level of service at any price.

  • +4
EpicRandy (on 08 December 2021)

Xbox Live is a great example of how to do things. Kinect is a great example of how not to do things. I guess that still count as a contribution.

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scrapking EpicRandy (on 08 December 2021)

I would argue that Kinect was a great example of how to do things, but Microsoft reorienting the Xbox as a Kinect-driven product is an example of how not to do things. I had a lot of fun with Kinect, and even into the Xbox One generation where I appreciated the Kinect's ability to turn the TV on and off, control the Xbox with my voice etc. Those were all great, IMO.

Making Kinect mandatory on Xbox One, Microsoft closing most of its studios, and Microsoft trying to force Kinect features into games that didn't need them are examples of doing it wrong. But Kinect itself was a fine product and there were a lot of cool things done with Kinect, not only on Xbox but also by people doing things with it on PC.

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Imaginedvl (on 08 December 2021)

Xbox Live is a no brainer. For Kinect, we probably do not see it (at least I do not ;)) but I think it contributed to other areas than gaming.

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trunkswd Imaginedvl (on 08 December 2021)

I don't see it either. Especially since Kinect is dead. I would have put bringing the FPS genre to consoles with Halo's success and the dual stick controls.

  • +6
method114 Imaginedvl (on 08 December 2021)

Not sure how Xbox live is a no brainer. PC players were online and playing MP games long before Xbox live. Hell I was playing games online on dreamcast before xbox live. The only thing it contributed is normalizing paying to play games online which I never hadhave to do on PC.

  • +5
Trentonater method114 (on 08 December 2021)

It's moreso halo 2 than xbox live itslef as it popularised and became the standard for the modern multiplayer formats with matchmaking.

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Imaginedvl method114 (on 08 December 2021)

It does not matter that you could do that on PC.
Yes it is a no brainer that Xbox Live was the trigger for the console space. Honestly if you want to argue about that; I'm not going to waste my time lol

  • +1
method114 Imaginedvl (on 08 December 2021)

Dreamcast and PS2 were already doing online games before that.

  • -5
Imaginedvl method114 (on 08 December 2021)

Okay buddy. Sure, everybody based their MP/network after Dreamcast and PS2.; sure... w/e; as I said, not wasting time with you. Clearly, you have an agenda if you compare the Gamer Network of Dreamcast/PS2 to the complete different level of Xbox Live when it came out and after.
Edit: looked at your post history; checks out from where this is coming :)

  • +2
method114 Imaginedvl (on 08 December 2021)

Now you've changed the argument. First you said the xbox live was the trigger for the console space. So when I named two consoles that already did online play before that you now changed it to everybody based their MP/Network after Dreamcast and PS2 which I never stated. My whole point was that PC was already doing this before consoles but you dismissed it because for some reason PC doesn't matter as if it's any different then a console. Xbox took what was being done on PC and brought it to consoles that's it. All these devices are just PCs at the end of the day. They just use a different OS and hardware.

  • +4
Imaginedvl method114 (on 08 December 2021)

No buddy, you are only changing stuff in your head. You know my posts are RIGHT UP there... Xbox Live changed the console space for whatever we are talking about since the start: "MP and Online play" I don't think I have to specify this every-time I respond as it is obvious. I'm not playing your little console wars game. Don't be confused.

And yes, PC does not matter we are talking about what Xbox Live brought to the table... What it did, was 100% on the console side... Not PC. Da fuck is wrong with you lol

Also, the majority of the industry agrees with the fact that Xbox Live was really the beg. of true MP/Gamer Network on console; does not matter if SegaNet or Some game on PS2 (heck on GameCube too) had online stuff. We both know why you need to come here and try to argue against it. Just be done with it.

  • +1
method114 Imaginedvl (on 09 December 2021)

This article is talking about the video game industry which includes PC so yes it does matter. They asked phil what xbox live brought to the video game industry as a whole not just the console industry.

I disagree I was playing PSO on dreamcast like a mad man with my cousins. That was true MP. Yes Xbox live improved upon that but my experience was still a full MP experience.

I'm arguing against it because it's what I believe this whole fanboy nonsense is ridiculous. You can't have any disagreement with people anymore because they just label you as being on some sort of side instead of just having a discussion. As if people can't even disagree anymore. I have a PS5, gaming PC, and even had a switch at one point. Before my PS4 I had a 360 I'm a gamer that makes good money I can buy and own whatever console I want. Thankfully I don't need an Xbox because MS has come over to the PC side as well. Hopefully Soon I wont need a PS5 either.

  • 0
scrapking method114 (on 08 December 2021)

Did you play online gaming on the Dreamcast, or in earlier days on the PC? I did. They were incredibly primitive compared to Xbox Live. By the time of the 360, Microsoft had upgraded Xbox Live into a service that was more comprehensive and ubiquitous than anything else going.

SegaNet couldn't do much (most games didn't offer voice or text chat, and those that did offered no cross-game functionality). PC gamers often used multiple services simultaneously to get all the functionality that Xbox Live offered in a single package.

  • +4
method114 scrapking (on 09 December 2021)

Yes I played PSO on dreamcast it was amazing. It didn't have voice chat thats it. Everything else was a true online experience. Voice chat wasn't really viable at the time anyways because of dial up. It wasn't until Ethernetcable came around that it became an option. Which is when Teamspeak came into play.

  • 0
scrapking method114 (on 11 December 2021)

I did voice chat on the Dreamcast in Alien Front Online, though you're right that it wasn't as good as modern voice chat.

But I would argue the lack of cross-game anything was the bigger downgrade then vs. now. No parties, no cross-game invites, no ability to have a friends list let alone see if your friends are online, etc. All stuff popularized on consoles by Xbox, and all stuff most people take for granted today.

Even PC didn't have it that good, as you might use an in-game text chat, but separately use Teamspeak (or similar). Ubiquitous friends list/text chat/voice chat/parties wasn't a thing on any platform prior to Xbox 360, in my experience.

  • 0
Ayla method114 (on 08 December 2021)

and people used to ride horses before cars.

  • +3
scrapking method114 (on 08 December 2021)

I played online games on both Dreamcast and PC before the Xbox came out. Xbox Live, especially starting with the 360, easily beat them. Dreamcast online gaming was terribly primitive. And back in those days, it was common for PC users to have to use multiple services simultaneously to have all the features, and to connect with all the people, that they wanted.

Xbox Live was truly innovative in how comprehensive and ubiquitous it was.

Achievements was also a huge innovation by the Xbox that was built on top of Xbox Live services. Even Steam has achievements these days.

  • +5
method114 scrapking (on 09 December 2021)

I agree with you about the achievements that was a game changer. One that at the time I thought it was stupid but once I got my 360 I enjoyed them a lot more then I thought I would. I did game on dreamcast with my cousins it was great we played PSO like crazy. PC gaming was also great.

Yes we had to use multiple services this isn't a bad thing though this is the way PC gaming has always been. We have to use multiple services for gaming stores as well and the benefit is massively lower prices for our games. There are positives and negative to both approaches. Sony will soon combine with discord and I assume they will be in a similar situation having to use discord for some chats or the default sony party chat for others.

  • 0
scrapking (on 08 December 2021)

Perhaps he's bundling this into Xbox Live's contribution in his mind, but one of the single-largest contributions by Xbox to the industry is Achievements. These days even Steam has achievements, so there's no arguing the influence of that innovation.

  • +5
mjk45 scrapking (on 08 December 2021)

Phil most likely feels that Live and Achievements are entwined and have a shared history so when you speak of either Live or Achievements using this context you are by default including the other.

  • +4
axumblade (on 08 December 2021)

Xbox Live, definitely. Game Pass, yes. Kinect, it had a time and a place. I wouldn't deny how huge it was at the end of 360's cycle. I'm sure that it does deserve some respect as far as augmented reality goes.

  • +5
loy310 (on 08 December 2021)

Imagine Sony still talking about Eyetoy

  • +4
Leynos (on 09 December 2021)

Kinect is just a better version of the SEGA Activator since it had 20 years to improve the idea. So they didn't come up with the idea. Then SEGA Dreameye and Sony Eyetoy. Game Boy Camera preceded it. Eyetoy is the most similar to Kinect. Nintendo had an Eyetoy like device at E3 2002 for GBA/Gamecube but never released it. I don't think Kinect contributed anything other than another one to add to the pile of multiple attempts by console makers to have no controller motion games. That said I think a new Kinect but with a new name could work as a VR separate add-on for Series X to counter Sony's PSVR2.

  • +3
DonFerrari Leynos (on 09 December 2021)

Not to forget that if we are talking about motion sensing we had the power gloves on NES, arcade games, and PS2 had a third party accessory that you had sensors in both arms and legs plus a carpet with inputs that you could use to play your games. So Kinect is certainly nothing new as concept, at most it was the most effective gesture capture device at the time it launched.

  • +3
Jumpin (on 08 December 2021)

I was convinced for a time that Kinect tech was the first step toward the normalizing of gesture based interface technology. I was wrong, and a little sad I was wrong.

  • +1
Azzanation (on 09 December 2021)

History shows Nintendo always innovate with the Hardware, while Xbox innovate with the Services.

  • -2
DonFerrari (on 08 December 2021)

So multiplayer that already existed before Live and Kinect that they discontinued? Ok.

  • -10
mjk45 DonFerrari (on 08 December 2021)

I feel he's talking about Lives impact on the console space and he's got a point , Live has impacted PSN and even if not to the same extent Nintendo's online service too , yes online was there before Live but Live turned it into a much more fully integrated system rather than just an internet connection.

  • +3
scrapking mjk45 (on 08 December 2021)

This. Even PC gamers didn't have ubiquitous online services back then, and arguably still don't to the degree Xbox Live offers. There was nothing close to the level of party chat, cross-game invites, etc., that Xbox Live on the 360 offered prior to it.

  • +1
Rafie mjk45 (on 08 December 2021)

I mean that's like anything that has progressed through time. Whether it's new CGI graphics and such in movies or even just plain graphics in games. Things get better and revolutionize with time. Of course XBL made online better. However, it had to start somewhere. I believe that's what others in the thread are getting at.

  • +6
mjk45 Rafie (on 08 December 2021)

True but he wasn't saying they created online he was talking about Lives impact and that impact should be self evident to anyone who has played games pre Live till now,

  • +5
DonFerrari mjk45 (on 09 December 2021)

Then we can say that PSNow impacted GP, PS+ impacted Live with Gold, etc. Impacting the industry and being biggest contributions are hardly the same thing.

  • +3
mjk45 DonFerrari (on 09 December 2021)

You can say that but it has nothing to do with this article, because Phil's specifically talking Xbox's impact or to satisfy you contributions, it has nothing to do with what the rest of the industry contributed or any refinements to the Live model Sony or MS made down the line, because he's talking from an Xbox perspective, or are you saying MS's main contribution isn't Live and it's something else , or maybe you think they haven't contributed anything and had no real impact ,since they entered the console market.

  • -2
scrapking DonFerrari (on 11 December 2021)

PS+ definitely impacted Live, through innovating with the games included with subscription model which Live later copied.

I think what we're pointing to are initial major points of innovation, rather than minor refinements. Microsoft rolling out achievements was a major innovation, Sony coming out with the idea of a "platinum" trophy was a minor refinement (as an example).

  • +1
DonFerrari scrapking (on 13 December 2021)

Achievements I can certainly agree that from what I know was something Xbox done first or made popular, but the other parts of the online (except pay for MP) already existed in console and PC, so it wasn`t something MS brought, even if we can certainly agree that were the first to make popular on consoles.

  • 0
mjk45 DonFerrari (on 13 December 2021)

You have to look at it from Xbox he's not ranking them against other contributions or claiming they invented online on consoles he's just saying they are the greatest console contributions they have made. , you broke it down to components ,but live was the first unified platform and that's what he 's talking about when he mentions live not the various components but the service itself for good or bad.

  • +4
DonFerrari mjk45 (on 13 December 2021)

And that is what I acknowledged, as a single service they were the first to bring to console sure, but it is hard to consider that a very big contribution as that was as I said first something that was already been doing in PC and several of the parts of it were already in consoles. But again there is no denying that they were over and above the others in console space for up until at least start of last gen on the online aspect.

  • 0
mjk45 DonFerrari (on 13 December 2021)

It's their contribution good or ill and Live and PSN have made a major contribution and impacted how we play and use modern consoles , it's a bit like saying Tim Berners- Lee shouldn't be hailed for the world wide web because online existed before it.

  • 0
scrapking DonFerrari (on 08 December 2021)

Xbox Live-level service did not exist beforehand, at least not to the level of what the 360 launched with. Sony, Sega, and Nintendo gamers never had something with that level of service. And PC gamers typically stitched together several services to have all the functionality and communication with all the people that they wished to connect with.

Xbox Live's main innovations were A) people having to pay for it, and B) the comprehensiveness and ubiquity of the level of service.

  • +5
Azzanation DonFerrari (on 09 December 2021)

Where did you think Sony copied PSN from?

  • +1
The Fury Azzanation (on 09 December 2021)

If by making us pay for something that was once free, sure.

Online play wasn't like it wasn't going to happen and PSN existed as a result of the natural progression of the industry and the world. Microsoft weren't the first console make to attempt Online Service of this type, Sega were. The setup and way it was implemented by MS is a great thing and the experience they had in the computing industry no doubt helped the setup of it but let's not think online wasn't going to happen without Xbox Live.

  • +5
Azzanation The Fury (on 09 December 2021)

Sony copied the entire Xbox Live model. Sega tried and failed with Sega Net, Sony tried and failed with the PS2. You know who popularized console online? Xbox. Everything in due time will happen with natural progression however that doesn't take away those who succeeded. Its not about being it first, its about doing it right.

  • -4
scrapking The Fury (on 11 December 2021)

I think without Xbox Live, we might have seen eventually online come to console in a big way. But I think it would have come later, and it would have been more disjointed, like on PC (where you might text chat through the game, but voice chat through a wholly separate app like TeamSpeak). I think you'd have different games implementing a lot of their own online services, like on PS2, perhaps to this day if not for Microsoft and Xbox Live. You likely wouldn't have the same wealth of cross-game online functionality, and online services might not be as ubiquitous.

  • 0
mjk45 The Fury (on 11 December 2021)

Why keep bringing up Sega He didn't say bringing online to consoles was Xboxes biggest contribution to consoles he said Xbox live and he's talking about the integrated model that Live introduced .

  • 0
Kanemaru (on 08 December 2021)
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