Xbox Boss: Games Industry Would be Healthier if Execs Actually Played Games

Xbox Boss: Games Industry Would be Healthier if Execs Actually Played Games

phill spencer

We're looking at you, EA games and Ubisoft!

With video game companies becoming more and more like massive faceless corporations and less and less like a bunch of video game nerds writing code in basements, a lot of the guys at the top are more "businessman" than they are "gamer". This is a trend that only hurts the industry, so says Xbox head Phil Spencer, who thinks that we would be much better off if more top level video game executives actually, you know, played video games.

In a Twitter exchange last week, Spencer praised Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida for being an avid gamer, spurred on by his recent PlayStation Underground video where he revealed himself to be a dedicated Bloodbourne player. "I think our industry is better when more people who made decisions on games play," commented Spencer. "Yoshida is one of those people."

It's an obvious statement (people who make a thing should know about said thing) but one that bears repeating. Nintendo, for example, has made a great name for itself among fans by constantly utilizing its "big three" executives (Reggie Fils-Amie, Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto) in fun little skits that show off their playfulness, and paints them as gamers first, businessmen second.

We've all seen our share of terribly awkward E3 moments caused by obviously non-gamer execs trying too hard to be "edgy" and "with it". I think the big wigs at some of the worst offenders (I'm looking at you, Ubisoft and EA games) should take a page out of Spencer and Yoshida's book and actually play the damn games they are making!

Source: Internode

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Maybe if more people in upper management were gamers, Xbox One's initial design features and advertising wouldn't have come off so anti-consumer and tone deaf to their core audience. I like what Phil Spencer has to say. He genuinely seems to understand his audience and what they're looking for in their console gaming experiences.

You think it would be part of the job requirements when applying or something. So you know what you are talking about, and have a good idea of what to do.

Hiring Phil is the best decision Microsoft has ever made concerning Xbox.

Eyes of Avo:
Hiring Phil is the best decision Microsoft has ever made concerning Xbox.

Couldn't agree more. Phil is the best Xbox exec since J. Allard left. That Mattrick idiot seemed like he was actively seeking the company's demise. E3 2013 was like the culmination of his secret evil Illuminati plan or something.

Shinkicker444:
You think it would be part of the job requirements when applying or something. So you know what you are talking about, and have a good idea of what to do.

You forget execs, investors and produces don't really have to follow those rules, in the business world they're walking, talking piggy banks you have to listen to.

OT: I think the biggest problem with the game industry is that it simply too young to fully understood and liked by everyone still alive. not to say gaming is only for children but Most gamers are between 10-35 and most people in executive positions are usually much older so they don't really have much respect for games as a art form they just see it as a dollar bill. the only way this will be fixed is with time.

People in a certain industry should enjoy what that industry makes?

Thank you, Captain Obvious, for passing on this vital information!

In almost every tech industry the sentiment should apply. I've mentioned this before but in my experience most of the people who run and manage big tech corporations, whether they be application development, game development, hardware development, etc., are people who have no clue what their products are or actually do.
Why Steve Jobs and even Bill Gates were successful is they had more passion and forward thinking to move the PC industry ahead, either by hardware design tailored to suit the general cclueless public or designing major software that everyone is able to use intuitively and making general users feel more comfortable in their PC's. And they started their respective companies surrounding themselves with like-minded individuals.
I'm not getting into the details and dirty work of both men, but rather saying they came out on top because they understood and loved the industry.
Too often publishers interfere with developers and you almost literally can see the fingerprints where said publishers squeezed the devs into corners, forcing them to put features in game or piece of hardware that are unnecessary.

My words are this: The gaming and tech industries are being strangled by clueless berks with MBA's, and these people need to be fired and find a real fucking job. END OF LINE.

Kind of like how this one Engineering Firm I know is run by one with philosophy degree instead of an engineering degree.

Yeah... Makes a lot of sense.

As for Nintendo, it's worth remembering that at least two of it's 3 top people are Game developers.
(Don't know about Reggie. Though he at least has fun with stupid stuff. XD)

Satoru Iwata is a former Software Engineer, and actually worked on code for quite a few older Nintendo games.
Shigeru Myamoto speaks for itself, being more or less the most legendary game designer in the industry...

that just leaves Reggie. But... He's not really in charge. He may run Nintendo of America, but he still has to answer to Japan...

So... Yeah. It does seem to make a difference too.
Say what you like about Nintendo, they still make considerably fewer overtly hostile/stupid moves than the likes of EA.
Their problems (if any) aren't caused by not being into games...

Damn it Microsoft, keep it up an a XBO may be under my TV next to the PS4 sooner than I had planned. It's true we need more experts in the industry in charge and less idiots out for a quick buck.

Shinkicker444:
You think it would be part of the job requirements when applying or something. So you know what you are talking about, and have a good idea of what to do.

It surprisingly doesn't make a lot of difference in several kinds of industries weather you are knowledgeable about the product or not. A good manager can manage almost anything, but the key word here is almost.

Few execs realize that games are more close to art than to a simple product (like a banana or a cell phone) and that it requires a more dynamic and sensible approach. Videogames is a very unique industry, actually.

marioandsonic:
People in a certain industry should enjoy what that industry makes?

Thank you, Captain Obvious, for passing on this vital information!

It is obvious, but that doesn't mean a lot of the big publishers follow it.

I don't think EA execs have to time to play games since they're too busy trying to steal your money and summon the old ones.

The problem isn't simply that execs don't play games, the problem is that execs don't play games but nonetheless make decisions about the content of said games. When I played through the numerous QTEs at the start of Tomb Raider 2013 I could almost hear an executive saying " and then we need a bit where this guy jumps out and grabs her and she needs to struggle free".

With this in mind, I propose a few rules.

1) If you want to control the content of a game, you must play games for five hours a week.
2) If you want to control the content of a game in a franchise, you must complete the previous game in the franchise on normal difficulty. Special allowances can be made if the previous game was notoriously hard, bugged, or in a genre that cannot be completed, in which case you should give it your best shot for 20 hours or so.
3) If you propose DRM, you must purchase, download, install and run your games yourself, jumping through all the hoops required to get them running. You cannot just get someone in the office to do the work for you.
4) If you require that a certain gameplay sequence be included, you must specify how the game mechanics will work, and be honest about whether it will simply become a QTE.

And you know, if the people upstairs didn't treat games or their audiences with absolute contempt.

Playing games is all well and good, but understanding them would be even better(basically making them play through a greatest hits collection of Silent Hill 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, etc.).

Cause I mean, a lot of games journalists are dedicated gamers but I'd dread to see them making large scale business decisions.

Wait wait wait. Wouldn't it be better if this guy was called the "XBoss?"

marioandsonic:
People in a certain industry should enjoy what that industry makes?

Thank you, Captain Obvious, for passing on this vital information!

Common sense is rarely common.

The big problem with this is that management is a skill in itself. The same issue is present in every industry and at every level of government - the people who actually know about a particular subject are generally the ones actually doing the work and have little interest in just managing other people, while the ones who learn about management from the start might end up being very good at that but don't have the time to learn as much about whatever it is they're managing, especially since this often changes from job to job. I think people also severely underestimate what it takes to actually gain useful knowledge on a subject. It's easy to point at bad decisions after the fact, but actually making good decisions in the first place is much harder. Gamers make great armchair quarterbacks, but that doesn't mean someone who occasionally plays games as a hobby actually understands them, and the process of making them, well enough to manage their development competently. When you're looking for someone to manage a multinational corporation with thousands of employees and billions in cash flow their level of interest in the final product is largely irrelevant, it's their ability to manage the company and its people that is important.

By far the bigger problem with the games industry is not that the managers aren't gamers, but that they frequently seem to be bad managers. A good manager doesn't need to know everything about a subject themselves, but they do need to listen to the people who do. After all, that's what they employ them for. Many of the bizarre decisions we see coming from the likes of EA and Activision are not simply that someone at the top has a bad idea, but that they act like a dictatorship and force their ideas on those below them, when good management means the flow of ideas should be exactly the other way around.

Objectable:
Wait wait wait. Wouldn't it be better if this guy was called the "XBoss?"

*drum rimshot*

OT: May if we had more gamer execs, there'd be more people at the top saying "Ummm...wait a minute guys. Seriously, why the fuck is half the game blocked off by a pay-wall or relegated to pre-order content? Shouldn't this all be part of the base game we've made?"

zinho73:
It surprisingly doesn't make a lot of difference in several kinds of industries weather you are knowledgeable about the product or not. A good manager can manage almost anything, but the key word here is almost.

Few execs realize that games are more close to art than to a simple product (like a banana or a cell phone) and that it requires a more dynamic and sensible approach. Videogames is a very unique industry, actually.

Which is why John Sculley was wildly successful as CEO of Apple! Cola and computers, it's all the same.

Hey, I've got an Xbox One and (almost) a MBA. In fact, my MBA classes have plenty of men and women who are also gamers. Why do gaming companies hire anyone without gaming experience when there are qualified candidates who are also gaming enthusiasts? (Trick question. It's because HR officers hate us.)

Alternatively, the former packaging industry execs could just not make game design decisions. Yeah, it's about time someone fucking said it because AAA games have felt like they were designed by a committee of suits for a very long time now.

Eyes of Avo:
Hiring Phil is the best decision Microsoft has ever made concerning Xbox.

Couldn't agree more

The old school Rare fanboy in me wants to punch anyone with the title "Head of Xbox" in the face, but dammit Phil, ever since last E3 I have wanted to punch you in the face less and less.

Take that as backhanded praise

While true, nothing was stopping all those devs that sold themselves to those publishers who later bastardized their IP and axed the team later.

I think they should just be good execs and not listen to the lobsters in marketing who know nothing about the industry.

They need advisers who are gamers , and they need to listen to the devs over marketing / branding people.

its not there job to be gamers , its there job to listen to good advice and be a good facilitator, if they dont there just bad at there job.

 

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