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In brief: Nintendo vs. Sega, Nvidia vs. AMD, Apple vs. almost everyone, tech history is filled with rivalries, and it’s not unusual for buyers of these companies’ products to defend them with a fervent passion. It’s something that’s especially common between Xbox and PlayStation owners, but head of Xbox Phil Spencer doesn’t appreciate console tribalism.
You’ve probably already seen social media posts from Xbox Series X/S and PS5 fans throwing insults at each other. It’s something that’s gone on for decades; I remember arguing with a friend over which was better, my Amiga 500 or his Atari ST. But when brand loyalty turns to a toxic hatred of a competitor, that can damage the very industry people love.
“That tribalism in the industry, if there was anything that would ever drive me out of the industry, it’s actually that,” Spencer told The Verge’s Decoder podcast. “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.”
Spencer noted how gaming is now more popular than ever and pointed to features such as crossplay as an example of how companies are trying to bring gamers together, no matter which console (or PC) they own. “But there is a core that just really hates the other consumer product,” he said. “Man, that’s just so off-putting to me... To me, it’s one of the worst things about our industry.”
Spencer added that the biggest competition faced by Microsoft wasn’t from the likes of Sony or Nintendo, but “apathy over the products and services, games that we build.”
The executive has long said that the most important thing to Microsoft’s gaming business wasn’t selling more consoles than its rivals but expanding Xbox services such as Game Pass and xCloud to more people. “If [selling more consoles than Sony and Nintendo] was our approach, we wouldn’t put our games on PC. We wouldn’t put our games on Xbox One; we wouldn’t do xCloud and allow people to play games on their phones,” Spencer said back in August.
Check out our feature on the biggest rivalries in tech history.