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How well do you believe Phil Spencer has handled Xbox from 2017-Present?

How well has Phil Spencer handled Xbox?

  • He has been handling it well

    Votes: 243 70.8%
  • He has been handling it poorly

    Votes: 100 29.2%

  • Total voters
    343

Eddie-Griffin

Gold Member
In 2017, Phil Spencer was given full control of Xbox and all interactive related departments at Microsoft that related to gaming in some shape or form. Earlier this year, Satya created a brand new position for him that didn't exist before, the CEO of Microsoft gaming.

As of now it's been 5 years since Phil Spencer has been top management for everything software and hardware related regarding gaming and interactivity. How well do you think has he handled Xbox during these last 5 years?

Imo, there's one major issue I have with Phils approach that I knew years ago would create multiple problems in the long term, and that's how he approached the Xbox One problem and how it's, for now, impacting how the Series X is being handled. I believe he made a critical miscalculation that is only not as bad as it would have been, due to missteps by its competitor, if not for that things would be a lot worse.

What am I referring to? The Xbox One had already solved most problems it launched with by the date pf Phils promotion, the issue with the Xbox One at that point was releasing in countries late, and some countries not at all, a lack of exclusive deals, a lack of major big console exclusive games that were first party, the weak hardware, and disorganization among teams within Xbox and its partners.

What Phil and other Xbox heads did was something that still doesn't make sense to me. They saw the major focus on services led to backlash of the Xbox One before it launched, leading to reversals, TVTVTV is still repeated out of context today, however the Xbox One still launched with various services, some failed, some held out. But it wasn't moving the needle in sales and mindshare once games and output dried up in 2015. Phil saw the problems of software and games, hardware, and services, but he decided for some strange reason, to focus on hardware and services first, and then dealt with the gaming and software last.

He wasn't promoted yet but he was involved with the Xbox One S redesign. he then teased Project Scorpio as a reboot of the Xbox One brand, arguably too much so as it confused people on whether it was actually a new console. Project Scorpio was later revealed to be the Xbox One X, and at the E3 people where wearing T-shirts by Microsoft about seeing the most powerful consoles ever, and the game reveals introduced the new term "console launch exclusive" being deliberately confusing. But in reality he still didn't solve the game studio problem. In 2017, he was still carrying on previous delays and cancellations, the development teams were still not organized, he still didn't have big timed exclusive games, or anticipated third party exclusives on the platform.

Instead he brought in enhanced BC, revamped Microsoft rewards, revamped Xbox One software features, and introduced Game Pass. He didn't really start getting studios in order until 2019, when Crackdown 3 finally came out, and started pursuing acquisitions since it would take too long to create new studios from scratch and seek out acquisitions a few studios at the same time, something he could have already been doing since 2017.

What ended up happening as a result is shown with how the Xbox Series consoles launched. Halo was announced as a launch game with other titles, those titles later didn't have dates, Halo itself was delayed, and Xbox Series X launched with nothing but an enhanced version of Gears 5 DLC. In 2021, some games were released but not many, there was still a major focus on services, they already had the hardware, Series X being the most powerful console this gen, Series S being the weakest but most affordable. After 2021, the games stopped, and for 2022 the big AA or AAA console exclusives have been bare this whole year.

I believe all these issues, including several of the delays, the cancellations, and the communication issues internally all came from his poor choices on what to focus on with the Xbox One, and it's now having a negative impact on the Series consoles. What he should have done imo, was focus on hardware and games first, and focused on services last. The hardware already gave you the BC, and Game Pass when it started was very bare bones, so you could have still had those while you gradually improved them and other software services overtime.

This way, when the Xbox Series consoles launched, Halo or not, there would have been games ready, the studios would have been more efficient and games would have been ready for 2022, less delays, and Game Pass and BC still would have grown the same way, other features may have fallen behind but they would be improving fast. What's important is that games showing off the superior hardware would have been ready at launch.

I believe in any other scenario this would have been a fatal mistake, but because the competition gave Microsoft multiple openings while stepping on it's own foot, Microsoft got lucky and still have the mindshare, got away with the delayed games (it's competitor dealt with this too to a lesser degree), and now seem to be set to turn things around in 2023, assuming there aren't more delays and the games come out well received, but if it wasn't for these fortunate events things would have been much worse.

I hope Phil chooses better priorities next time. Putting so much focus on services on the Xbox One, a console already hanging onto relevancy by a thread, instead of their next console games was a waste of time and resources, BC and Game Pass in their basic forms is fine but those and the others software features being the focus never made sense, because you were taking time needed to organize your studios and get them ready for next gen, for something that wasn't going to change the fate of the Xbox One, and he wasted several years on this that could have went toward studio and game development.

Jury's out on what happens in 2023. Even though I think he has made a crucial mistake with his priorities, Phil has done a good job in other areas such as delivering All Access, which allows you to own a next generation console with affordable monthly payments, acquiring some of the finest developer studios, giving us Xbox as the most powerful console again, Game Pass and the new Game pass friends and gamily plan, expansive enhanced BC, great software features, and an easy way to expand storage, though expensive. But, some of this could have waited a year or two while they were substituted by better studios and game output, and I hope that 2023 is the year where Phil shows he finally has that under control, and we don't have any more delays, games announced with trailers before the devs even know what the game is supposed to be, or Halo Infinites.

If he can get that done, then I'll say he's doing well. For those that agree I'll enable vote changing, just in case he turns it around with games next year.
 

TwiztidElf

Member
Problem is, given that I believe both Jim Ryan and Phil Spencer are performing satisfactorily, both are still making huge profits for now.
As we know though with this slow moving, heavy investment industry, balance sheet performance tends to lag a few years behind quality performance.
 

The_Mike

Member
Very well. He's done everything right, and there sure as hell has been alot that has to bring fixed after Mattrick clowned around.

If you look past that old story about no exclusives, they are way beyond the industry standard.


Digital refunds(regarding consoles) , pushed on cross play, backward compatible, game pass, xbox play anywhere between pc and Xbox.

The usual suspects are gonna laugh at my post, but really, when it comes to pro consumer then there's really no one who can beat Microsoft.
 

AmuroChan

Member
I think he's done better than Microsoft could have ever hoped for. Optically, XBox is viewed much more favorably by consumers than it has ever been. Gamepass is a game changer literally and caused a seismic shift in the industry. He's given XBox fans what they wanted, an actual gamer running the company rather than a suit who's out of touch with gamers.
 
Could really do with an in-between option here. I don't think he's been doing a terrible job per se but, it also hasn't been a sterling operation either. There are still very few 1P releases that aren't Halo/Gears/Forza, Halo is worst now than it has ever been brand health-wise, and at quite a few points it feels like Xbox as a brand is being pushed aside for GamePass and PC, like it is a second-class citizen. And I definitely think they need to chill on any further acquisitions until we see some actual results from the studios they've purchased between 2018 and now, that have been developed fully under MS's watch, to see how they are able to handle these studios over the long term before thinking of adding more load and increasing pressure.

That said, they do have several 1P games that I am intrigued by, and feel could be very unique experiences if pulled off right. They have a lot of pieces that can fit together to really give them some big creative wins software-wise, it is just going to take the right type of leadership to do it. I'm not even necessarily talking about Phil Spencer here, but people under him like Matt Booty, Pete Hines, whoever'll lead ABK studios, and heads of the actual teams under even them. Phil can't do all of their jobs; they have to do their jobs, and in quite a few cases there, step their game up.

I don't think I can have a full opinion on where Xbox as a brand is at where it matters games-wise until probably 2025, when some of those aforementioned new games can actually be ready for release. Those will tell me whether they can really bring some 1P games that are masterclass and lead the industry in some way or another, or even if we get a good amount of new high-quality games not just the same Halo/Gears/Forza...or if the brand is just going to forever be stuck in a sort of pit of mediocrity outside of the expected Forza and maybe some RTS or flight sim game here and there along the way.
 
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I think Phil has done an admirable job of pointing Xbox in the right direction for the future, as they are in a much better position today than before he took over. He seems to understand the industry and gamers at the same time, with Game Pass, backwards compatibility program, having internal teams double framerates (or make them native 4K) of no-longer supported titles, etc. Those are major good will moves and QoL improvements for everyone who owns an Xbox. Placing all 1st party titles and Game Pass on PC, xCloud, cross play, play anywhere, etc.

Then you have other deals he oversaw, such as bringing EA Play to Game Pass at no additional cost, and the moment The Show went multiplat he locked it up on Game Pass day and date, two years in a row.

He oversaw the acquisition of Bethesda/Zenimax, and is currently doing the same with Activision/Blizzard.

Their 1st party lineup hasn't been as strong as it should be, but it will be. I think if all goes well in 2023 then we will see the fruits of Phil's labor.
 
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Droxcy

Member
Overall he's done a good job yet there's always room for improvement.

He needs to take in the reigns a little bit more. Like most leadership positions you come in trying to give teams breathing room and not throw any curve balls depending on how much of an asshat the last guy was, Yet some game results we've seen could've been prevented if he and fellow staff really got on the directors of these games and say hey this shit won't bode well for our players or us as a company etc. Just a few examples, Crackdown 3, Halo & we haven't even seen Fable yet.

Buying up these various studios brings huge value to the ecosystem (Bethesda/Zenimax, EA Play, Activ/Blizz) so on that front he's been doing great and gamepass is fantastic with major titles releasing from these acquisitions it's a no-brainer to have them under your umbrella along with others to follow I'm sure.
 
Overall he's done a good job yet there's always room for improvement.

He needs to take in the reigns a little bit more. Like most leadership positions you come in trying to give teams breathing room and not throw any curve balls depending on how much of an asshat the last guy was, Yet some game results we've seen could've been prevented if he and fellow staff really got on the directors of these games and say hey this shit won't bode well for our players or us as a company etc. Just a few examples, Crackdown 3, Halo & we haven't even seen Fable yet.

Buying up these various studios brings huge value to the ecosystem (Bethesda/Zenimax, EA Play, Activ/Blizz) so on that front he's been doing great and gamepass is fantastic with major titles releasing from these acquisitions it's a no-brainer to have them under your umbrella along with others to follow I'm sure.
I give him a pass for Crackdown 3 because by the time he took over it was pretty clear that game was never going to be anything special, lets just release and move on versus dedicate more time and money to a project that will never be all that great.

Halo, on the other hand, is inexcusable, especially because at its core the game is phenomenal. It's just marred by a massive litany of small issues that each one on their own isn't a big deal, but it drags the overall perception of the game and brand down. 343i needs a major overhaul in leadership or more direct oversight from xbox brass. It's very clear the team doesn't have focus like a major AAA studio should, which is why they get so many things right but at the same time so many things wrong. A strong leader would have prevented that.
 

Eddie-Griffin

Gold Member
he gives developers too much free will...
sounds weird to say that but it's true.

This is a big problem I partially addressed in the OP. He need to be a bit more assertive with the studios and how they run, nothing wrong with autonomy but you have to be a jerk once in awhile to make sure things are done right and on time once in awhille.
 

MarkMe2525

Member
Not perfect, but it's in a hell of a lot better place since before his tenure. Anyone who knows how to succeed, recognizes you have to build a solid foundation to later iterate on to fully see a vision through. You saw his vision start to take shape in 2016 and he had to basically start from scratch. He has had six years to get the pieces and people in place, but even as a person who empathizes with how much work it takes to build a truly great production company, patience is wearing thin for many.

There are a few things I disagree with regarding the direction he is taking Xbox. One of them being the lack of investment in immersive additions to the gaming hardware. Vr and gyro comes to mind as additions that their customer base would appreciate.

It feels as if the Xbox division has become very conservative after the Kinect and tv integration of X1 and I don't think that's a good thing. The Kinect for Xbox one was an awesome piece of equipment that was never leveraged in any meaningful by MS. It was their responsibility to show their audience and developers what was possible with it, and they failed to do that. Some of the stuff that hobbiest game developers have done with it is quite impressive.
 
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fermcr

Member
Phil Spencer has done a good job saving and promoting the Xbox console and Gamepass... but the lack of exclusives is absurd. Microsoft should be releasing way more platform (Xbox/PC) exclusives then they currently are.
Have they released any exclusive in 2022?
 
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01011001

Member
This is a big problem I partially addressed in the OP. He need to be a bit more assertive with the studios and how they run, nothing wrong with autonomy but you have to be a jerk once in awhile to make sure things are done right and on time once in awhille.

I feel like his studios simply are too long in the concept and pre production phases and go nowhere.

Halo Infinite apparently completely changed direction about 3 to 4 years ago... it's like, wtf is even happening?
the fact that he even let them follow a concept to make a main Halo entry into a Hero based shooter is baffling. he should have come in there and tell them "FUCK OFF with that shit, you make a Halo game not fucking Overwatch!" right from the start
 

Eddie-Griffin

Gold Member
I feel like his studios simply are too long in the concept and pre production phases and go nowhere.

Halo Infinite apparently completely changed direction about 3 to 4 years ago... it's like, wtf is even happening?
the fact that he even let them follow a concept to make a main Halo entry into a Hero based shooter is baffling. he should have come in there and tell them "FUCK OFF with that shit, you make a Halo game not fucking Overwatch!" right from the start

To be fair the Hero shooter bit is a rumor but it's believable based on how things turned out.
 

Daytonabot

Banned
He's brought everything to PC day and date, started releasing everything on Steam, and broke Epic exclusivity with some PC Game Pass offerings. It's hard to imagine how he could have done better.
 

01011001

Member
To be fair the Hero shooter bit is a rumor but it's believable based on how things turned out.

I think we now even have leaked images of that hero shooter version.

I haven't looked at them but saw a headline somewhere...
and that shouldn't have entered production even for a second, that idea should have been thrown out immediately.
 
The games released for Xbox since he's taken over have been pretty poor compared to the competition. It's been, "Phil will come through. Next year", every year.

2022 was supposed to THE year. Instead, we've gotten one indie-level Obsidian game. That's it. Literally the only game for an entire calendar year.

Phil gets a pass every year. I honestly don't get it, but it is what it is.
 
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In 2017, Phil Spencer was given full control of Xbox and all interactive related departments at Microsoft that related to gaming in some shape or form. Earlier this year, Satya created a brand new position for him that didn't exist before, the CEO of Microsoft gaming.

As of now it's been 5 years since Phil Spencer has been top management for everything software and hardware related regarding gaming and interactivity. How well do you think has he handled Xbox during these last 5 years?

Imo, there's one major issue I have with Phils approach that I knew years ago would create multiple problems in the long term, and that's how he approached the Xbox One problem and how it's, for now, impacting how the Series X is being handled. I believe he made a critical miscalculation that is only not as bad as it would have been, due to missteps by its competitor, if not for that things would be a lot worse.

What am I referring to? The Xbox One had already solved most problems it launched with by the date pf Phils promotion, the issue with the Xbox One at that point was releasing in countries late, and some countries not at all, a lack of exclusive deals, a lack of major big console exclusive games that were first party, the weak hardware, and disorganization among teams within Xbox and its partners.

What Phil and other Xbox heads did was something that still doesn't make sense to me. They saw the major focus on services led to backlash of the Xbox One before it launched, leading to reversals, TVTVTV is still repeated out of context today, however the Xbox One still launched with various services, some failed, some held out. But it wasn't moving the needle in sales and mindshare once games and output dried up in 2015. Phil saw the problems of software and games, hardware, and services, but he decided for some strange reason, to focus on hardware and services first, and then dealt with the gaming and software last.

He wasn't promoted yet but he was involved with the Xbox One S redesign. he then teased Project Scorpio as a reboot of the Xbox One brand, arguably too much so as it confused people on whether it was actually a new console. Project Scorpio was later revealed to be the Xbox One X, and at the E3 people where wearing T-shirts by Microsoft about seeing the most powerful consoles ever, and the game reveals introduced the new term "console launch exclusive" being deliberately confusing. But in reality he still didn't solve the game studio problem. In 2017, he was still carrying on previous delays and cancellations, the development teams were still not organized, he still didn't have big timed exclusive games, or anticipated third party exclusives on the platform.

Instead he brought in enhanced BC, revamped Microsoft rewards, revamped Xbox One software features, and introduced Game Pass. He didn't really start getting studios in order until 2019, when Crackdown 3 finally came out, and started pursuing acquisitions since it would take too long to create new studios from scratch and seek out acquisitions a few studios at the same time, something he could have already been doing since 2017.

What ended up happening as a result is shown with how the Xbox Series consoles launched. Halo was announced as a launch game with other titles, those titles later didn't have dates, Halo itself was delayed, and Xbox Series X launched with nothing but an enhanced version of Gears 5 DLC. In 2021, some games were released but not many, there was still a major focus on services, they already had the hardware, Series X being the most powerful console this gen, Series S being the weakest but most affordable. After 2021, the games stopped, and for 2022 the big AA or AAA console exclusives have been bare this whole year.

I believe all these issues, including several of the delays, the cancellations, and the communication issues internally all came from his poor choices on what to focus on with the Xbox One, and it's now having a negative impact on the Series consoles. What he should have done imo, was focus on hardware and games first, and focused on services last. The hardware already gave you the BC, and Game Pass when it started was very bare bones, so you could have still had those while you gradually improved them and other software services overtime.

This way, when the Xbox Series consoles launched, Halo or not, there would have been games ready, the studios would have been more efficient and games would have been ready for 2022, less delays, and Game Pass and BC still would have grown the same way, other features may have fallen behind but they would be improving fast. What's important is that games showing off the superior hardware would have been ready at launch.

I believe in any other scenario this would have been a fatal mistake, but because the competition gave Microsoft multiple openings while stepping on it's own foot, Microsoft got lucky and still have the mindshare, got away with the delayed games (it's competitor dealt with this too to a lesser degree), and now seem to be set to turn things around in 2023, assuming there aren't more delays and the games come out well received, but if it wasn't for these fortunate events things would have been much worse.

I hope Phil chooses better priorities next time. Putting so much focus on services on the Xbox One, a console already hanging onto relevancy by a thread, instead of their next console games was a waste of time and resources, BC and Game Pass in their basic forms is fine but those and the others software features being the focus never made sense, because you were taking time needed to organize your studios and get them ready for next gen, for something that wasn't going to change the fate of the Xbox One, and he wasted several years on this that could have went toward studio and game development.

Jury's out on what happens in 2023. Even though I think he has made a crucial mistake with his priorities, Phil has done a good job in other areas such as delivering All Access, which allows you to own a next generation console with affordable monthly payments, acquiring some of the finest developer studios, giving us Xbox as the most powerful console again, Game Pass and the new Game pass friends and gamily plan, expansive enhanced BC, great software features, and an easy way to expand storage, though expensive. But, some of this could have waited a year or two while they were substituted by better studios and game output, and I hope that 2023 is the year where Phil shows he finally has that under control, and we don't have any more delays, games announced with trailers before the devs even know what the game is supposed to be, or Halo Infinites.

If he can get that done, then I'll say he's doing well. For those that agree I'll enable vote changing, just in case he turns it around with games next year.
I think he's been a refreshing break from the Don Matrick days. He's had his setbacks but it's great that he's always focused on the gaming side and not the TV and Kinect stuff.
 

Banjo64

cumsessed
I love the two pronged approach with the S and X.

Console hardware under Spencer has been on point. Build quality; perfect. Noise profile; silent under any load. Heat; minimal.

User interface; fantastic. Customisable, easy to use, easy on the eye.

Games; not great. At all. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is their highest quality exclusive in that time IMO (I’ve not even played it yet, just basing that on Blind Forest). I’d say Ori is on par with the best Nintendo and Sony games. It’s a banger. Gears 5 multiplayer I enjoyed. Good game to be honest. I’m a platformer nut but Psychonauts 2 missed the mark for me. Halo Infinite, absolute joke. Forza Horizon 5 is fun to dick about in.

Game Pass has been good for me. It is great, but I wouldn’t pay £10.99 a month for it. For as long as I can renew for 3 years at £121 (or below) I probably will.

2022 is an absolute disaster.

If I had to score him out of 10 for the last 4 years I’d give him a 10/10 for overall strategic vision, hardware build quality, acquisitions and services but probably a 4/10 for released games. Considering The Initiative, InXile, Ninja Theory, Obsidian and Undead Labs have been on board since 2018 they really should have a smooth release schedule by now and have a lot more to show for it.
 
Dude was a hail Mary attempt to keep the division going. Considering he was given the job mostly because he was the only guy left he's done pretty well.

I'd like to see the games come out faster though and the studio issues get resolved. I think he needs to review studio leadership at a few of the studios under the umbrella.
 

Jaybe

Member
I’m of two minds here.

The bad:
- one of the most important thing a platform holder can do is release great first party games. The output has been abysmal since he’s helmed Xbox (and it’s not like he wasn’t involved prior). He picks or at least influences the heads of the studio, and accountable for what is produced.
- hardware innovation aside from the console
- PC releases day 1 with Xbox. I think this has slowed releases down. I think it contributed and still does to Halo Infinite’s failed promise. Seemed like a big strategic push by him that’s a miss. FH5 had issues too, and no one plays Gears on PC so what was the point. I think post day 1 pc releases are still good to do.
- trying to double Gold sub price
- focus on GaaS and MtX

The great:
- he convinced Satya there are 3 billion gamers out there waiting to sub to game pass and stream games which probably helped the division survive and surely is the reason for 77+ billion in investment
- I’m not a fan of consolidation, but if it’s going to any way, he’s done the big moves to win share that are needed
- game pass is a disrupter, lots see value in it (particularly gold upgrade), I’m suspicious of it for industry health but as a consumer it’s been good
- console hardware. They did well with the Series X and S and X1X. Series S was a smart move at least short term
- BC support and seemingly seamless upgrades with smart delivery vs PS.
 
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ZehDon

Member
In terms of turning Xbox around, he's done an objectively terrific job. Xbox is in a pretty good place right now as a platform. The hardware is going strong, Game Pass is crushing it, and there's lots to be excited about. They're not quite back to the Xbox 360 hey-day - more on that below - but they're certainly leagues better than the Mattrick era.

The one sticking point in Phil's tenure is that Xbox's first party output still hasn't climbed back to its previous heights. Playground Games is probably their best and most consistent developer. Meanwhile, their biggest franchise, Halo, is a complete dumpster fire. Gears is still in re-build mode. But, must damming of all, they haven't added new IPs to their headliners in nearly a decade. They've taken steps to rectify that with their recent eye-watering investments, but we're still in "wait and see" mode. For all the joys of Game Pass and my Xbox Series X, I want to see Xbox deliver the first party games I know they can. Until then, Phil still has work to do.
 
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Sosokrates

Report me if I continue to console war
Lol reactionary thread backfire


 

AJUMP23

Gold Member
He has done well. He had a lot of bad press to overcome. The main thing to improve is big blockbuster titles.
 

HoodWinked

Member
It's a bit of a paradox.

He's been good at the things he can control directly but they are mostly inconsequential. Where as the things that are doing poorly he has less control of. Where as Jim Ryan has been non stop causing self inflicted PR gafs and burning as much good will as he can. But despite that Sony first party studios are doing just fine minus some delays.
 

baphomet

Member
I mean, he's taken steps to fix their main problem which is lack of games.

But until we start seeing some of the fruits of those investments Xbox has been kinda shit as far as releasing new AAA games goes.
 

Menzies

Member
He's no saint, but he's performed one massive miracle: -

Seeing an opportunity to align the Xbox vision, with former head of Azure and current Microsoft's CEO's vision.

'Anywhere, anytime, any device'.

No longer do they feed Xbox breadcrumbs and think it should just survive without investment.
 

Esca

Member
I think he's done a good job, especially with what he was given to work with. My only complaint and is my main complaint him is the lack of first party content but that will change (feel like that had been said for too long)
 

reinking

Member
There have been some missed opportunities under his watch but I believe his time at Xbox will be looked on favorably. Partly based on him convincing MS to open up the warchest. I still think his true success will be based on the success of Game Pass. If Game Pass becomes what he envisions it will be one of the bigger changes in gaming history. If it continues to be an add-on subscription service for an in house console or falters his tenure will be less favorable.
 
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It's been great. He prevented the sector from dying as far as Xbox goes and set a foundation for the future of gaming as a whole for better or worse. We still have to see the games but the impact is already set in stone.
he gives developers too much free will...
I kind of like that cause no two Xbox games feel alike. Lets see what obsidian and inxile do , if their games are dud maybe they should reel it in.
 
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