In a recent interview, the head of Xbox - Phil Spencer - stated that if there were anything that could make him quit the video game industry altogether, it would be the relentless toxic console fandoms.
On the most recent episode of the Decoder podcast with Verge Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel, Spencer briefly spoke up about how toxic fans can get online when next-gen consoles are announced and released. “To be honest, I love the industry I’m in. This is the job I love. My wife will tell me it’s the only job I’m qualified for, but this is the job I love. But that tribalism in the industry, if there was anything that would ever drive me out of the industry, it’s actually that, what you’re talking about.”
The Xbox boss reflected on how fans today still find ways to tear down and attack each other online and in the real world over which games and hardware they prefer. He continued to say:
“When a team releases something into the market for the world to tear it apart on the internet—it’s just such a brave thing for a team to do. I’m never going to vote against any creative team or any product team to do poorly because I have a competitive product. It’s not in me. I don’t actually think it helps us in the long run in the industry. But especially in the console space, there’s like a core of the core that have, I think, taken it to a destructive level of, ‘I really want that to fail so the thing that I bought succeeds.’ I’m saying on both sides. I’m not saying that it’s all people crushing Xbox's and everybody that loves Xbox is always completely inviting to all the PlayStation stuff.”
“I’ve said before that I find it distasteful”, Spencer added, “but maybe that is too light. I just really despise it. I don’t think we have to see others fail in order for us to achieve the goals. That’s not some kind of ‘kumbaya’ thing. It’s actually real. We’re in the entertainment business. The biggest competitor we have is apathy over the products and services [and] games that we build.”
Microsoft and Xbox have made several moves to try and break down the hate between them and other large gaming brands. Some examples are launching social features such as cross-play, outlining commitments to create a safe gaming space for all, tweeting out in support to other brands on their launches and appearing on stage together at events.
In a recent interview with TASS, Jim Ryan - the CEO of Playstation - was asked about his view on the console war with Microsoft - “[Console wars] is not a term I ever use or actually like. For me, it’s great that there’s competition. I think it makes us work harder. It avoids us getting complacent. It’s great that the consumer has a choice. I think that’s wonderful. We’re happy and we’re proud with what we have.”
So while it is clear that the Playstation boss does enjoy the competition, he has yet to make an opinion on the ‘toxicity’ and ‘tribalism’ that certain fans express. Ryan also discussed in an interview with gamesindustry.biz how the PlayStation community is ‘tribal’ and ‘sticky’ as a more positive concept compared to Phil Spencer’s take on toxicity.
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