If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Microsoft's Phil Spencer

Japan? Yes we can! Etc.

You've got to admire Microsoft's determination. Millions of dollars spent on marketing, years of work spent on promotion, and still only 12 people in Japan own an Xbox.

But all that's set to change, at least as if Phil Spencer has anything to do with it. He's the corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios and he delivered the keynote presentation at this year's Tokyo Game show - as you'll know if you read our live text of his speech.

Spencer announced no less than five new Xbox 360 titles from Japanese developers, including a few Kinect offerings. But will these be enough to convince Japan that Xbox 360 isn't rubbish? Can Microsoft's motion-controller compete with Move? What does the future hold for the Xbox platform? And how many times can one man say "experience" in a single interview? Read on to find out.

Eurogamer How was the keynote for you? Were you nervous?
Phil Spencer

Of course I was nervous! From a sense of personal pride, I've been in the Xbox business since the beginning of Xbox 1 and as an American company, getting to come to TGS to host the keynote and bring 10 Japanese creators on our stage, talking about the products they're building for our platform... It wasn't always true that would have been a natural conclusion for us.

Those creators aren't just jumping on the installed base that we have, but also looking forward to the future. It was good to see the level of support.

Eurogamer Speaking of your installed base, yesterday you pointed out that Xbox is number one in the States and number one in Europe. You didn't say what position it is in Japan...
Phil Spencer

Actually I don't know. I mean, I'd guess we're third, historically, if you take PS3, Wii and us as the set.

I'm proud of the products we shipped here. We're clearly the away team; Sony and Nintendo have a long track record of success. But we're dedicated to this market. That's why the $2.1 billion in sales for Japanese creators on our platform is also a mark of pride.

Eurogamer You've made pushes into Japan before, and had presence at TGS before, yet Xbox never seems to have gathered enough momentum to take off here. Why is that?
Phil Spencer

Momentum builds over time. Before Xbox we had no presence, and the other two competitors were in the market, and I do think we've made strides. If we look at where we've come from from Xbox 1... I do think it's a steady momentum.

We'll continue to push. Microsoft's a big company with big ambitions, and in certain regions those ambitions will take time to come to fruition. Japan's part of our global community there and we're dedicated to this space for the long term. There's no magic tick-boom point for us.

Eurogamer With regard to the new games you announced yesterday, how come we didn't see any gameplay?
Phil Spencer

Truthfully, we're just early. We want to show things when we actually can show, in a visually stunning way, the promise of what the game's going to be about. I don't know if a one-hour TGS keynote is the place for somebody who wants to see a gameplay prototype played out on stage.

Eurogamer The Kinect titles on show yesterday seemed more hardcore in tone than the games you've got coming out at launch. Would you say that's an accurate appraisal?
Phil Spencer

Our focus was really on celebrating Japanese creators. There wasn't a specific, 'Hey, we're going to show a bunch of hardcore stuff,' attempt to prove a point. It turns out that the content was different than the content we had at E3, and I don't see that as a bad thing.

Kinect will be entertainment for everybody - gamers who have shown support and new people who probably look at controllers as too much friction for them.

Eurogamer A few of the comments by readers on our live text were suggesting they're still not interested in Kinect, that they don't want to stand up to play games. What would you say to that?
Phil Spencer

I'm happy for people to be sceptical. People aren't going to buy something based on the front of the box for an ad we present, especially people who understand games. They want to play and experience. That's why we do our mobile tours and retailer events.

Scepticism, I think, is healthy. I wouldn't want someone to buy something because I say it's going to be good.

Eurogamer Aaron Greenberg's just been quoted as saying he reckons you'll sell more Kinects at launch than you did Xbox 360s. Would you agree?
Phil Spencer

Yeah, touch wood. We're investing in this so people will know Kinect is here. Retailers are telling us from their buzz and what they hear from people walking the store asking questions that this is going to be the biggest consumer home electronics launch of this year, and they're gearing up towards that.

Given all the momentum that I see and the way we're investing, I'll bet this is the biggest platform launch ever.

About the Author
Ellie Gibson avatar

Ellie Gibson


Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

Eurogamer.net logo

Buy things with globes on them

And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!

Explore our store
Eurogamer.net Merch