Over at Microsoft the Xbox team has seemed a bit unsettled for a while now. It all started when Don Mattrick left to join Zynga last summer and continued right up to last week when Marc Whitten headed off to Sonos. Of course in the midst of all this, Steve Ballmer handed over the reins to Satya Nadella and Stephen Elop was announced as the next head of Microsoft's Devices and Studios. Elop, of course, is on record as saying (at one time) that he'd consider selling the Xbox division if he had his way.
Yesterday CEO Satya Nadella announced a new change, and I think it's good news for gamers. Phil Spencer is now Head of Xbox. That means Microsoft Studios (the internal game development team), Xbox Live, Xbox Video and Xbox Music all report to him, and I expect he'll be the face of Xbox when it comes to press conferences and such. The reason I think this is good news is that Spencer comes from Microsoft Studios; he's a games guy.
In fact he wasted no time in spreading that news. He started on Xbox Wire and then did interviews all over the place including VentureBeat and Polygon. The message? Here's a quote from the Polygon piece:
"With me you're going to get a focus on gaming first and a best platform to play games on," Spencer, formerly the head of Microsoft Studios, said. "It's not a focus we ever lost but it's one I'll be accentuating at Microsoft. It's really going to be a gaming-led focus with Xbox and my new role allows us to execute on that."
So under Spencer, games are the first priority when it comes to the Xbox One. While you may think that's self-evident, under Mattrick the Xbox One was often promoted as a media hub first and a gaming machine second, while Sony has focused on gaming since the introduction of the PS4. The Sony PS4 had taken an early lead in this generation's 'console war' though whether that's because of the price difference or the focus on games as content is up for debate.
Spencer's message is reassuring and timely. New games for the Xbox One seem few and far between right now. While it's typical for a new console to have a 'drought' after the initial rush of titles, it's nice to hear the Head of Xbox making re-assuring noises. I'll be looking forward to what he has to say at E3 in June.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.