It’s not every day that you see a company executive praise a rival. However, in a recent documentary, that’s exactly what the Xbox Head, Phil Spencer did. Talking about the various consoles Nintendo has created over the last twenty years, Spencer explained that the platform “can’t be decoupled from the video game industry, and are intrinsically tied”. He went on to say that Nintendo is often the first platform that introduces a lot of people to gaming, especially the mainstream audience and has been an inspiration to the Xbox Team.
The role that Nintendo has played in making gaming a safe and inviting family experience, while also bringing core game experiences to their platform, I think has been foundational to the industry that we have today. I don’t think you can decouple the video game industry from Nintendo, I think they’re intrinsically tied.
The thing that I look at is, how many people are coming into gaming because of their first experience on a Nintendo platform? I’ve always said that I think the health of Nintendo is something that we should cherish as an industry, and watching them grow and innovate is both great for us as an industry, but also an inspiration for us at Xbox to do better.
Commenting on the Nintendo Wii launch, Spencer said that the launch of the super-successful console gave the Xbox Team “a jolt” and made him realize the importance of unique features on a platform. He even went on to say that he couldn’t have designed something like the Wii, as it was very unique and completely different from everything that existed on the market at the time.
I remember seeing it and I’ll tell you, I could have never designed the Wii… I don’t have that in me,” he says. “I don’t know if I’m not brave enough or whatever as a platform holder now to go and do something as just completely different, and to be just so all-in on a new paradigm was just amazing to see. It gave us a real jolt that we can’t just be great at what others are doing, we have to have some unique things that are important for our platform, and the Wii was just a perfect example of that.
He also briefly spoke about the GameCube and the Nintendo64, but it was more of a nod rather than praise especially if you consider the latter. The N64 controller was unsurprising brought up, with Spencer explaining that he was simply ” unable to understand the controller”.
I don’t know their internal design process and how they revolve and iterate on top of what they learn, but clearly, they came out of that with a lot of momentum on the next thing they did. I still don’t understand the controller, just being honest. I guess it’s multiple controllers in one, but you needed three hands to play that!
You can watch the entire video below: