Tag Archives: Phil Spencer

Microsoft announces Crackdown and Scalebound will be skipping E3 2015

crackdown xbox one

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer took to Xbox Wire today to announce that Crackdown, Scalebound, and Quantum Break will all be skipping E3 this year.  Spencer first touted the current lineup of games coming this year to Xbox One including Halo 5 Guardians, Forza Motorsports 6, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, while revealing that the other three AAA titles for Xbox One would be missing E3.  This isn’t all bad though, Spencer did reveal that we will get better looks at the three highly antiticipated titles at Gamescom.  Spencer wrote “We’ve decided to save some of our most eagerly-awaited future titles for gamescom in August. Rest assured that titles like Crackdown, Quantum Break and Scalebound will be front and center at gamescom along with new game reveals for both Xbox One and Windows 10.” 

Microsoft is holding their press conference on Monday the 15th at 11:30am Central time, and it will last for about 90 minutes.  During the show, expect gameplay demos of the likes of Halo 5: Guardians, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza 6, and probably titles like Fable: Legends, a Gears of War remaster, and the next title in the Gears of War franchise.  Of course, their will also be major third party titles shown as well, though Call of Duty may not be present like it was in past conferences.  I’ll be covering the conference and give readers a full recap of the proceedings afterwards.  What games are you most looking forward to at E3?  Let me know in the comments below!

by, Bobby Marquardt

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Phil Spencer talks about his new role as Head of Xbox

Earlier this week, Phil Spencer was named as Microsoft’s new Head of Xbox.  He promised to focus on making people realize that the Xbox is a game brand first.  In a new interview with Major Nelson, Spencer, surprisingly, acknowledged that Microsoft and Xbox made some mistakes over the past year.  He went on to reiterate his focus on gamers and gaming once again though.

Spencer continued his interiew with Major Nelson, saying that they are listening to gamers on issues like a lower priced Xbox One, expanding Games with Gold and more.  Is this basically confirming that the Xbox One will be cutting a steep price cut this year, as well as better Games with Gold?  I’m sure we’ll find out as Microsoft continues to hype their E3 presence as Ggmes, games and games.

by, Bobby Marquardt

Phil Spencer is the new head of Xbox

Phil Spencer Xbox One

Since Don Mattrick left Microsoft in 2013 to join Zynga, there has been a leadership void in the Xbox division.  That all changed today, new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced in an email to employees that Phil Spencer, former Vice President of Microsoft Game Studios, will now be the head of Xbox.  His role will combine the Xbox and Xbox Live development teams as well as Microsoft Games Studios under one banner.  Phil will lead the Xbox, Xbox Live, Xbox Music and Xbox Video teams, and Microsoft Studios.

In a letter to Xbox fans on Xbox Wire, Spencer wrote “Combining these teams will strengthen the connection between some of the world’s most innovative creators and those building the Xbox itself. I am incredibly proud of the talented Xbox employees around the world and believe, like they do, in the power of technology to bring games and entertainment to life across console, PC, tablet and mobile devices.  It’s been a remarkable year for Xbox and I am honored to lead the team at this incredible time for Microsoft and the games industry.”

Spencer is a well respected member of Microsoft, being with the company for over 25 years.  He was named General Manager of Microsoft Games Studios, and has only ascended from there.  During that time, and especially during this period of doubt and negative public opinion toward Xbox, Spencer has been seen as someone who understands what gamers actually want.  In an interview today with GameInformer, Spencer said  “My goal, first and foremost, is to make sure that everybody understands that Xbox is a gaming brand and it’s going to be gaming first.”

The unificiation of the divisions will allow Microsoft to have a “tight feedback loop”, between gamers, the Xbox team at Microsoft and the developers.  Laughing, Spencer told Polygon that the biggest request from gamers is to release a new Shenume game.  While that may not be in the plans, he did emphasis the incredibly strong lineup Microsoft is teasing for E3, as well as some form of development from Japan.  Could this be Microsoft’s rumored Platinum Games exclusive?  We don’t know, but I’m sure we’ll find out in the future.

In the mean time, we here at The League of Mediocre Gamers want to wish Phil Spencer all the best in this new leadership position.  He is one of the best men for the job.

by, Bobby Marquardt

Microsoft’s E3 press conference to be heavy on games, light on executives

xbox oneMicrosoft is reportedly bringing some big guns to this year’s E3 press conference.  In tweet today, Microsoft Game Studios’ VP Phil Harrison was asked if the press conference would be as game focused as their 2013 press conference was.  Harrison replied “Yes, I think you’ll see very few execs.  We are already over our 90 minute time limit and having to move stuff out of show.”

In terms of what games we will see, it’s anyone’s guess.  I’m certain we will see Halo 5 in some capacity, though it could be limited if we are getting a Halo 2 Anniversary this year.  On top of that, we may get a teaser for Black Tusk’s Gears of War game, an all new Forza Horizon may be coming, and maybe even a Crackdown 3 trailer (Or maybe I’m just hoping a bit too much for that one).  I’m betting big time third party titles with Microsoft-exclusive content will be shown as well.  Maybe some gameplay from Batman: Arkham Knight?  Or we may see the almost inevitable Call of Duty demo.

What do you want Microsoft to do at E3?  Can they announce anything to win you back if you are a fan who has felt slighted?  Let me know in the comments, and be sure to check back here on June 9th, where we will have full coverage of Microsoft’s E3 press conference.

by, Bobby Marquardt

Marc Whitten leaves Microsoft after 14 years

Marc WhittenMarc Whitten, Chief Product Officer of Xbox, has left Microsoft.  In an announcement from both Microsoft and Whitten on Xbox Wire, it was revealed Marc will leave Xbox to becomes the Chief Product Officer of Sonos, the wireless speaker company.  Marc Whitten had been with Microsoft since 2000, where he oversaw the

“I have had the extreme pleasure over the last 14 years to work on the greatest product with the greatest team and for the greatest community,” said Whitten on Xbox Wire. “Xbox is so special because of the amazing team I’ve had the opportunity to work with and because our fans are the most incredible fans on the planet. It has been the highlight of my career to work on a product so loved. It’s incredibly tough to leave but I am confident the best days are ahead for Xbox fans, in the capable hands of a very talented team.”

Microsoft has confirmed that the remainder of the Xbox leadership will remain intact, but will now report to Terry Myerson, executive vice president that oversees the teams building the software platform and experiences for Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox.  Marc Whitten was scheduled to host an Xbox-centric chat with gamers at GDC, but that duty will now be passed onto Microsoft Game Studios VP, Phil Spencer.

We wish Marc Whitten the best in his future endeavors at Sonos.  His leadership was integral to the success of the Xbox over all these years.

by, Bobby Marquardt

Microsoft acquires the rights to Gears of War, Black Tusk Studios working on new Gears game

Gears-of-War

Microsoft has announced today that they have acquired the rights to the Gears of War franchise from Epic.  Included in this acquisition is all present and future control over all rights including games, entertainment and merchandise.  Microsoft has designated Black Tusk Studios, their new Vancouver-based studio will begin work on an all new Gears of War game.  Rod Fergusson, Former director of production at Epic Games, and former director of product development at Irrational Games, is joining Black Tusk as it’s Studio Manager.

Black Tusk is the new developers for Gears of War

Black Tusk is the new developers for Gears of War

In the announcement, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer spoke on the acquisition saying “It all comes back to our commitment to Xbox fans. The “Gears of War” franchise has a very strong, passionate and valued fan base on Xbox. Over twenty-two million units have been sold across all “Gears of War” titles worldwide, grossing over $1B dollars (US). This franchise, and these fans, are part of the soul of Xbox. By acquiring this franchise, Microsoft Studios will continue to offer them more of their favorite games and entertainment experiences from the “Gears of War” universe.”

Black Tusk Studios was assembled in 2012, bringing in top talent who have worked on games like Uncharted, God of War III, Crysis 2, and many more.  They also recruited from other Vancouver-based studios like Black Box, Propaganda games, and Slant Six.  Phil Spencer commented on the choice to give Gears to the unproven Black Tusk, saying “I am extremely confident that under the leadership of Hanno Lemke, Rod Fergusson and our other leaders in the studio, Black Tusk is well equipped to take on the future development of the “Gears of War” franchise.”  Adding that Black Tusk is a world-class team, who have a passion for the shooter genre.

Previously, Black Tusk was said to be working on an all new AAA IP, that was touted as the next Halo by Phil Spencer.  The new IP was teased at Microsoft’s E3 press conference, but no real news had been heard on the game since.  Spencer called the teaser a “concept” piece; not another project being shelved in place of Gears.

Epic Game’s founder Tim Sweeny released a statement on the news saying “Epic Games has reached an agreement to sell the ‘Gears of War’ intellectual property rights to Microsoft.  We’re very proud of the franchise we built in close partnership with Microsoft over the past decade and are happy that this agreement enables Microsoft to forge ahead with the ‘Gears’ universe on their industry-leading platforms as Epic concentrates its efforts on new projects.  Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.”

Epic_Logo

Today’s announcement begs the question: What exactly is Epic working on now?

Epic Games went on to clarify that they are still making games, and not just technology like the Unreal Engine.  Wes Phillips, PR manager from Epic Games, wrote on twitter that Epic currently has multiple games in development including Fortnite.  Epic’s last release major console release was Gears of War Judgement, developed by their Polish studio formerly named People Can Fly.  Epic’s primary studio in Maryland has not released a game since 2011’s Gears of War 3.

Former Gears of War lead developer Cliff Bleszinski wrote a blog today about the announcement.  He confirmed that he will not be moving to Vancouver to work with Black Tusk on the game, but did express his joy with the franchise being in good hands.  “343 knocked it out of the park with Halo and I think Black Tusk will do a fantastic job with Gears.”

This reporter’s opinion:  This is a very smart move by Microsoft.  Gears of War is a system selling franchise, and getting the franchise from Epic was the right move.  Epic didn’t seem to be doing anything with the franchise, and probably made quite a bit of money on the purchase by Microsoft so it seems like this is a win-win.  Bringing Rod Fergusson back to the franchise was also a very good move.  He is a long-time industry veteran, and has a passion for the Gears franchise.  The real question from today’s announcement is now what in the world is Epic working on?  We know they are developing the Unreal 4 engine, but their Maryland studio has been quiet ever since Gears of War 3’s 2011 release.  We know People Can Fly is working on Fortnite, and Chair is like working on more Infinity Blade, but is their Maryland studio then making a new AAA IP?   Could they be working on something more free-to-play based?  Tencent Holdings, owners of studios like Riot Games, now controls over 48% of the studio.  Could they be influencing the studio to make a game that could have the mega-success of League of Legends?  We’ll have to see.

by, Bobby Marquardt