Xbox Head Sees Amazon, Google as "Main Competitors"

Phil Spencer_Headshot_color- Microsoft Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Microsoft

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox

As a new era of game streaming services dawns, Phil Spencer sees tech giants that are now entering the industry as the major threat to his company moving forward.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, highlighted which companies he sees as his major competition in the gaming space as the industry heads into a new decade.

"When you talk about Nintendo and Sony, we have a ton of respect for them, but we see Amazon and Google as the main competitors going forward," Spencer told the newly launched tech site Protocol

Over the past year, tech giants such as Apple and Google have gotten into gaming in a big way, with the former launching the subscription mobile games service Apple Arcade in September and the latter debuting its Stadia games streaming service in November. Amazon, meanwhile, has long been rumored to be working on a service of its own, but details are still being kept under lock and key. However, Jeff Bezos' tech and shipping superpower is planning to launch its first title under the Amazon Game Studios banner, the massively multiplayer open world game New World, this year. 

Established video game leaders — of which three stand at the top of the mountain: Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft — have also been leaning hard into cloud gaming and game streaming services. Each of the three major game companies offers subscription services to its players, and Xbox has been testing its streaming service over the last year, with plans to fully launch Project xCloud, as it is officially named, sometime in the near future.

Spencer noted the importance of cloud gaming in his conversation with Protocol, saying Microsoft has "invested tens of billions of dollars in cloud over the years." 

Spencer's comments also come at a time when both Microsoft and Sony are gearing up for the launch of their next-generation consoles this holiday season, the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, respectively. 

Xbox has struggled during this current console generation, with sales of the Xbox One (launched in 2013) far behind those of Sony's PlayStation 4 (also debuted in 2013) and Nintendo's Switch (2017). 

As cross-play (the ability to play titles with other gamers on different consoles, i.e., playing Fortnite with one player on Xbox and one on PlayStation) becomes more common across the industry, Spencer also stressed the importance to look at tech company newcomers as the major competitive threat. 

"I don't want to be in a fight over format wars with those guys [Sony and Nintendo] while Amazon and Google are focusing on how to get gaming to 7 billion people around the world," he said.