Xbox Boss: We've Changed How We Do Certain Things With Activision

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has been talking as part of a new interview with The New York Times, in which he gave his thoughts about the recent allegations at Activision Blizzard, admitting that Xbox's relationship with the company has changed — "and they're aware of that".

Back in November, Spencer was said to have told his team that he was “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard, following allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. Reportedly, he told staff that Xbox was evaluating its relationship with the company as a result.

Today, he confirmed that certain changes had been put in place. Here are some snippets from the interview:

"I always feel for people working on any team, my own teams, other teams. I think people should feel safe and included in any workplace that they’re in. I’ve been in this industry long enough to maybe feel more ownership for what happens in the video game space. And I’m saddened and sickened when I hear about workplace environments that cause such distress and destruction of individuals and teams..."

"The work we do specifically with a partner like Activision is something that, obviously, I’m not going to talk publicly about. We have changed how we do certain things with them, and they’re aware of that. But I also — this isn’t about, for us as Xbox, virtue-shaming other companies. Xbox’s history is not spotless."

Spencer went on to discuss the topic in more depth, enthusing that "any of the partners that are out there, if I can learn from them or I can help with the journey that we’ve been on on Xbox by sharing what we’ve done and what we’ve built, I’d much rather do that than get into any kind of finger-wagging at other companies that are out there."

"I think the first thing we need to be able to do is have people feel like they can report and talk about what’s happening. That goes to, like I said, the safety for people. And I have more capability of that on my own team. But I’ll just say in general, having open lines of communication where people can report on their lived experience on our teams, it’s got to be so critical.

And to get there, it’s a cultural effort of how do you build that trust so people feel like when they whistle blow, when they raise their hand about topics that are going on, that they won’t face repercussions. Rather, they’ll see action. In terms of work that we do with other companies, again, I would rather help other companies than try to get into punishing. I don’t think my job is out there to punish other companies."

The Xbox boss was pressed on his remark about not "punishing" companies, with Spencer explaining that "the things that we choose to do, in coordination or not with other companies, is the avenue that we have to have an impact."

"I think in terms of interactions with other companies, the things that we choose to do with our brand and our platform, in coordination or not with other companies, is the avenue that we have to have an impact. I would say in terms of individuals that are in leadership positions at other companies, it’s not obviously our position to judge who the C.E.O.s are. Like, C.E.O.s are chosen by shareholders and boards.

At Xbox, I know who I’m accountable for here in terms of the business and the operations. It’s my teams here, my management chain. And that’s the thing that we continue to focus on, is to try to grow. And whether that’s us sharing, again, the experiences that we have with other partners, if we can help them on their own journey or on the things that happen in our own teams."

The full interview is a fascinating listen / read and delves into this topic even further, so be sure to check it out.