Mike Ybarra
Image: via Mike Ybarra (@Qwik)

It's been a wild week for Xbox following the announcement of four studio closures, and while the video game giant is currently facing a lot of criticism, many ex-Microsoft and Xbox employees still believe the brand can overcome this difficult period.

Following Seamus Blackley's comments, former Blizzard president (as well as Xbox and Microsoft employee) Mike Ybarra has chimed in (again). After his comments defending Phil Spencer earlier this week, he's now publicly shared his thoughts about Xbox's strategy and all of the attention it's currently getting.

Primarily, he still "100%" loves Xbox and believes it can find a path to "great success" for both its teams and players worldwide.

Ybarra goes into a much lengthier statement about the division - highlighting how "it starts and ends with a strong desire to win" and making "great games that exceed player expectations". He believes this is "what is fragile now and needs to be addressed as soon as possible". He also makes a special mention of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, calling him a "fantastic leader".

You can see the full statement below (via X):

Mike Ybarra: "People have asked me what I think about the Xbox strategy and all this press. Publications have asked me questions about Xbox.

I 100% love Xbox and think Xbox can find a path to great success for their teams and players around the world. 100%. 110%!

To answer some questions:

Xbox has always been accountable for its business. Even when it was small, or in the red, pressure exists and always will. I see some articles today with anonymous ex-Xbox'ers talking about the Board....I don't see this as "the Board" doing something different. It's not the function of a Board to be operators that dictate to business units and teams what to do day to day. Sure, pressure and stakes are always high and only get higher as you grow. I've never seen Satya dictate something top down - he questions and pushes but empowers his teams. He is a fantastic leader.

The idea of 'the market isn't growing' is a PR excuse. As a team, it's your job to drive your own growth even if the overall market isn't growing at the anticipated rate. I think it's more 'the strategy isn't working as expected'. Which is OK - strategies have to continually shift in a market that moves as fast as gaming does.

I'll say again, this all comes down to making great games. If you make great games, consumer demand will follow and your business can do well even in low market growth years. A great game is a $500M-1B+ profit generator for the business (across platforms). Given the size of Studios, you need to get to a world where a few of the teams are delivering against this at the right cadence (you don't need all your Studios doing big, huge games... and shouldn't as the risk profile is too large). After all, your install base is big right now given where we are in this console generation (and of course big on PC as well) so the opportunity exists for success.

If you aren't making great games then your hardware isn't selling, and your subscription is flatlining .... the clarity of strategy or execution is broken somewhere and needs to be fixed inclusive of ensuring leadership and team capability to drive great game development and growth. They 100% have teams who can make great games. It just isn't consistently happening.

I see two paths here: If your North Star is the Game Pass subscription, you have to take that exclusive to your services and HW and be all in across games, HW, and services in an exclusive 'go big' plan. Pumping regular 90+ rated games into this will drive consumer affinity and satisfaction. That said, it is high risk/high reward and takes a strong desire to win. If you're not willing to do that, then you're on another path: you're a Publisher across all devices and you need to embrace that 100% and be clear (likely means out of HW, I fundamentally believe if you don't have great exclusive content your HW is doomed as people won't understand 'why' they need it.). Being the world's largest publisher of games is a great spot to be in - as long as you can make great games. If you can't, you'll be right back where you started. You have the pick your lane and go hard at it for success, with clear communication to your players. If you play in the middle of these two paths, IMHO you'll hurt your teams and you'll have constant churn and chaos.

It starts and ends with a strong desire to win and making great games that exceed player expectations. That is what is fragile now and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

These are all hard decisions, it's certainly no easy task given where things stand today, and both paths have dramatic implications. But I fundamentally believe in Xbox, its fans, and the opportunity ahead for great HW, services, and games OR as a publisher of games and services across any screen. I'm cheering for Xbox and it pains me to see all the negative swirl. So for those asking, keep the faith in Xbox but ask for clarity on what the path forward is for the brand and product. Then make your own decision on what is best for you and your valuable time and money.

For those who think I'm one of the people talking to publications anonymously about Xbox, I am not. I was not a founding member of Xbox and I think by now you all know I won't be 'anonymous' if I have something to say.

These are just my opinions. This is the last I will talk about this here on X. It's easy to say what you think when you're not in the trenches living the reality of the challenges. I wish great success for Xbox now and into the future - it's good for gaming overall and I care deeply for Blizzard who is now part of the Xbox team."

What are your thoughts about Xbox's future after everything that's happened this week? Let us know in the comments.