“I’m happy with the progress we’ve made,” Spencer said, “but I’m getting into the process by supporting people who may not be as close to the gaming industry by asking good and tough questions. on “what is our intention? What does it mean? If you play it over five years, does that restrict a market? Is it a growing market? »
The settlement with Activision, announced in January amid ongoing lawsuits alleging a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and discrimination at Activision Blizzard, is by far the largest in the history of the video game industry. The deal has raised many questions about whether Microsoft could harm competition by owning the Xbox hardware ecosystem, a fast-growing internal division of game development studios and, if the deal goes through, major franchises. video games like Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Diablo, Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
Spencer’s comments are among the strongest public statements about a Microsoft executive’s deal since shortly after it was announced. In recent regulatory filings in Brazil and elsewhere, Microsoft and Sony have questioned the potential ripple effects of the deal and what it could mean for the games console market, the gaming industry in general. and lucrative gaming series like Call of Duty. While Saudi Arabia became the first country to officially approve the acquisition, Microsoft’s biggest hurdles remain closing the deal with the US Federal Trade Commission, the EU European Commission and the EU. UK Competition and Markets Authority.
Spencer told Bloomberg that he believes Activision management is capable of fixing the company’s broken culture. “I believe they’re committed to it,” Spencer said. “When I look at the work they’re doing now – there’s always more that can be done – but I believe the studio heads there who I know very well, some of them are former members of the Xbox, that they’re on this journey. And I applaud that regardless of the deal.
Spencer also addressed topics related to the deal that have affected the wider gaming community, including a growing union movement both within Activision and beyond and concerns that Microsoft could use its ownership. of Activision to retain products from its main competitor, Sony.
“I have never led an organization that has unions, but what I can say working through this is that we recognize the needs of workers to feel safe and heard and compensated fairly in order to make a great job,” Spencer said. “We definitely see a need to support workers in the results they want to have.” Activision-owned studio Raven Software became the first major video game studio to unionize earlier this year after workers were victorious in their election to the National Labor Relations Board.
The union, made up of more than two dozen QA testers, has since inspired similar efforts at Activision Blizzard Albany studio. Although despite Microsoft’s pledge not to fight unions and an unprecedented settlement with the Communications Workers of America, Activision management insisted on deploying union-busting tactics against Blizzard Albany in a manner similar to its failed attempts to undermine the union at Raven, according to CWA representatives and members of the Game Workers Alliance Albany group who organize the union.
On Call of Duty, Spencer echoed comments he and Microsoft made when they first announced the deal with Activision, including commitments to keep the popular shooter series on the PlayStation console at the same time. times through existing agreements with Sony over the next few years and beyond. . Spencer said that a new hardware platform-exclusive game release “is something that we’re going to see less and less of” over time, although Microsoft will make future releases from Bethesda that it has taken ownership of. as part of its 2020 acquisition of ZeniMax. Media, exclusive to its Xbox and Game Pass platforms.
“Maybe you buy an Xbox in your household and I buy a PlayStation and our kids want to play together and they can’t because we bought the wrong piece of plastic to plug into our TV,” said spencer. “We really love being able to get more gamers to reduce friction, to make people feel safe when they play, to find their friends, to play with their friends, regardless of device – I think in the long term it’s good for this industry. And maybe in the short term there are people in some companies that don’t like it. But I think when we get over the hurdle and as we see where this industry can continue to grow, it turns out to be true.