Microsoft has promoted Xbox chief Phil Spencer to executive vice president of gaming at the company, and it has elevated him to a position on its senior leadership team.
Spencer is one of the top leaders in the game industry, and he has been at Microsoft since 1988. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella informed employees today that Spencer had a new title and he is now part of the senior leadership team, which has 16 top execs at Microsoft. The appointment shows that games remain an important part of Microsoft’s overall agenda, and that Spencer will have voice in the big decisions at the company. Games have been an important driver of attention and community at Microsoft, enabling the company to drive huge audiences for titles such as Gears of War, Forza Motorsport, and Halo. But they are a relatively small part of the company’s overall profits.
Previously, Spencer was head of Xbox, and he has also held positions as head of Microsoft Studios and Microsoft Game Studios. He has led the company with the launches of the Xbox One S and the upcoming Xbox One X, which debuts on November 7. The gaming organization is still part of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices unit. Microsoft is preparing to launch new mixed reality headsets for virtual reality and augmented reality soon, and gaming will likely be a big part of that. Microsoft has an event on October 3 in San Francisco, and the headsets are expected to be available on October 17.
That puts Microsoft in a similar position to other platform companies — like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple — which typically have enthusiastic game audiences and much larger non-game businesses.
Microsoft said that that gaming will continue to share human resources and other functions with the Windows and Devices group, and there are no reporting changes as a result of the promotion.