Leaked emails have revealed Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s thoughts about PlayStation 5 back in early 2020.
Sony revealed a deep dive into PS5 in March 2020 with a broadcast in which PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny confirmed its hardware specifications.
The announcement revealed PS5 includes a custom eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU clocked at 3.5GH and a custom GPU based on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture hardware that promised 10.28 teraflops and 36 compute units clocked at 2.23GHz, as well as 16GB of GDDR6 RAM and a custom 825GB SSD.
Spencer wrote the email to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and chief financial officer Amy Hood “after almost 12 hours of soaking in their unveil, taking apart their specs and looking at the community responses”. He clearly sounds enthusiastic about Microsoft’s console prospects, knowing full well what the Xbox Series X and S would offer when it went on sale alongside the PS5 later that year (who remembers the teraflops war?). Coming off the back of the last generation and the Xbox One, which was significantly underpowered compared to the PlayStation 4, Microsoft set out to ensure it had the most powerful console on the market with the Xbox Series X, and the PS5 specs reveal in March 2020 confirmed that position.
“We have a better product than Sony has, not just on hardware but equally important on the software platform and services on top of the hardware,” Spencer wrote. “We have the ingredients of a winning plan. I felt the feedback from the BoD discussion on being too confident and maybe this will just reinforce that perception, I get the need to be humbly confident but today was a good day for us.
“We haven’t won anything. And I know we have hard discussions about pricing, P&L, investments etc. This mail isn’t trying to scoop any of that, those discussions really matter. But we can take confidence in our product truth here and I do believe any conversation needs to start with believing in that. This was a good day for Xbox.”
Of course, this email was sent three-and-a-half years ago, and a lot has happened since the current generation kicked off. While the PS5 has proved an enormous sales success, sales of the Xbox Series consoles have struggled in recent times, with tough year-on-year comparisons and a light release slate of exclusives.
In fact, during the Federal Trade Commission versus Microsoft trial in June, Microsoft admitted Xbox had officially “lost the console wars”.
A section of a document submitted by Microsoft described its entry into the gaming industry in 2001, when its original Xbox console was outsold by both Sony and Nintendo by a “significant margin”. And, per Xbox, it hasn’t stopped “losing” the “console wars” ever since.
“Xbox’s console has consistently ranked third (of three) behind PlayStation and Nintendo in sales. In 2021, Xbox had a share of 16% while Nintendo and PlayStation had shares of [redacted] and [redacted], respectively. Likewise for console revenues and share of consoles currently in use by gamers (‘installed base’), Xbox trails with 21% while PlayStation and Nintendo have shares of [redacted] and [redacted], respectively.”
Microsoft is currently embroiled in perhaps the biggest, most devastating leak in Xbox history, with FTC trial documents revealing its plans for a mid-gen Xbox refresh in 2024, a next-gen hybrid Xbox in 2028, and Bethesda’s release schedule. A leaked email revealed Phil Spencer really wants to buy Nintendo. There’s also word of a potential one-hand Xbox controller.
Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or confidentially at email@example.com.
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