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.
So glad he's at the Head of Xbox. Really great response IMO. All we can do is change and progress and be held accountable.
His candid, levelheaded response speaks to his wisdom as a leader and it doesn’t seem like he was reactionary, but deliberate with the process he went through. It’s a tough position to be in, I’m sure; his thoughts about it are nice to hear.
What these businesses need to do is invest in a proper HR department, employee the right people, educate their existing and future employees, implement a correct grievance system and correct company procedures in place.
And take a zero tolerance policy.
We have all that where I work about 1200 employees and we the most wonderful place to work with almost zero trouble and amazing career opportunities.
For those of you across the pond, "virtue signaling" is a phrase used exclusively by the absolute worst Americans. It is used to escape responsibility by accusing good people of only acting good so other people think good of them rather than acting good because they are good people. Phil is not your friend. He is just another rich dude who won't do anything besides the most profitable thing.
Xbox's relationship with the company has changed , how ? They're still selling & promoting their games
Considering the woes that activision are going through, and the gender discrimination lawsuit over at sony, no wonder these companies got along so well.
All joking aside. There is no place, for these kind of acts, workplace or elsewhere.
Weird statement. 'Hey we did some random thing we're not gonna tell you about. But yeah we handled the problem.'
Because if you stop doing that, you are targeting the wrong people. The studio’s and the Def’s are going to get hurt the most because of it.
He also mentioned that Xbox Series is the fastest selling Xbox, which is pretty good.
Looking like some lip service. I'll believe it when I see proper ramifications. Until then it just looks like one industry head covering for another.
Today is the first time I can say Phil just plain disgusted me and I've lost ton respect for him. In my opinion he is just riding this as an incredible PR stunt.
How can I say that? How dare I even think to say that? I must be heartless? I must be a total jerk?
Nope. Xbox still does business with EA. So I'm just going to be honest and say Phil just talking out his backside.
@Dezzy70 I've always been against them due to my own horrible experiences. But I can't help but feel it is time for the game industry to unionize and absolutely tear it down.
I like Phil, but this is a bit of a non-statement.
It’s typical corporate speak to try and show fans who are outraged something is being done (but not saying what is being done) while being careful not to upset their business partner (because that would be bad for business).
I’m not big on boycotts or outrage mobs. And I don’t think it’s Microsoft’s place to change another company. Activision should be changing and holding itself accountable because it’s the right thing to do, not because of a Twitter storm.
If they only act because of external pressures they aren’t changing for the right reason. And if it took such outrage to bring about change in the first place, then they have far deeper problems to fix that will take a long time to earn back trust with. In fact, I wouldn’t trust any change from the company because they haven’t acted in their own accord but are only doing it to save face.
@Kienda Neither Acti or Ubisoft care to change. Abusing staff is actually financially rewarding to both companies, a threat to their revenue, either by boycott or partners dropping them is the only thing that will change them.
Literally, Ubisoft saw an increase of revenue since their abuse allegations, and we had people on this site saying stuff like "yeah. I don't like what Acti did, but I'm going to support the devs by buying the new COD" and it's mental.
This is a non statement because all these companies are putting profit over people. He wants keep the relationship with Acti because of the money, but saying "I support acti in their practices" would likely draw mainstream attention to both companies. And none of them want the attention for this. It's why Sony and Nintendo are extra quiet on the situation beyond a general "doing bad stuff is bad".
@Ocat I'm not sure worrying about employees long term prospects at Activision should be any body's concern. Acti have a long history of firing hundreds of employees to improve their value.
Continuing to prop up Acti's culture and business practices seems like the far more cruel response.
So their relationship had "changed", but won't say how, or what they're actually doing.
Wanting to help out rather than punish is all well and good when the other company doesn't have the resources to do it themselves, but they most certainly do. Activision doesn't need any "help" they need a business reason to care.
Sony, Nintendo, and MS need to make a concerted effort to bring companies to task over abuse. Don't want to punish then perhaps fund an independent group to provide free advice and legal resources to the game industry? Or how about just punishing them, and refusing to platform their games?
@Richnj yeah, that’s kind of what I’m saying. The fact they only change when it hurts their wallet doesn’t show them as a good company. But you’re right, it’s too much to wish them to be good on their own accord without pressure.
Great statement by Phil. Anyone who’s worked in big money businesses knows damn well they’re not going to just say what they told Activision publicly. This should be obvious. Business is a business and pretending it’s anything but is asinine. The fact that Phil addressed it, again, tells you they’re paying attention. The bigger question is…do gamers, the customers of Activision, actually care? Because that’s who drives change. If sales go down and ATVI is aware it’s due to their terrible attitude & policies, then things will change. In the end, there’s only so much a business partner can do.
@Krysus legally he probably cant and if not legally you dont want to really piss off one of the biggest publishes out there.....Ninty did this in the N64 Era and it turned out horrible for them.... he went far enough to say we made some changes but didnt cross the line into bashing activision.
I don’t care how these companies operate internally. Do they put out good quality products that I want to buy?
Oh this aged well. Very well.
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