Following the PlayStation 5’s official announcement in March 2020, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer sent an email to his bosses, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and CFO Amy Hood, to inform them that the PS5 reveal didn’t cause him as much stress as he anticipated. On that day, Spencer said he believed the Xbox Series X|S was in a better position to succeed than the PS5. .
In an email dated March 18, 2020–the same day that Sony officially announced the PS5–Spencer told Nadella and Hood, “We have a better product than Sony does.” This email came to light as part of the huge Xbox leaks from the FTC trial recently.
He added: “Not just on hardware but equally important on the software platform and service on top of the hardware. We have the ingredients of a winning plan.”
Spencer said his stress level was “higher than normal” on the morning of the PS5 reveal event, but after taking time to review the PS5 reveal and dig into the specs and the community response to it, Spencer said he was confident Xbox had a better strategy.
That being said, Spencer said in the email that Microsoft had not yet “won anything” and he said there would be a “hard discussion” coming up on pricing and other factors about the Xbox Series X|S consoles. All of that said, Spencer ended his message by saying, “This was a good day for Xbox.”
The email also alludes to a meeting with the Microsoft Board of Directors that might not have gone exactly how Spencer wanted it to. He had he “felt the feedback” from a Board of Directors meeting about how Spencer came across as “too confident.” And he acknowledged that this email to Nadella and Hood might only reinforce that, but he pressed ahead with his “humbly confident” email because he thought the PS5 reveal didn’t cause the stress he anticipated.
Earlier in the email, Spencer discussed how the Xbox One failed to match the success of the PS4 and said he felt things could change with this new generation. “We’ve all lived with 7 years of starting off a generation with a price and performance (and messaging) disadvantage to PS4 with Xbox,” he said.
In terms of straight-up sales, things didn’t work out for Spencer in the end, though, as the PS5 and Nintendo Switch are clear market-leaders. Both systems regularly outsell Xbox in the US and likely worldwide. Microsoft’s ace is Xbox Game Pass, and it’s a real paradigm shift and a point of differentiation between Xbox and Sony. But PlayStation makes billions more than Xbox from games, hardware, and services.
The Xbox leaks also revealed new insight into Microsoft’s long-term next-gen Xbox plans, a mid-gen refresh for the Series X|S, and a roadmap of future Bethesda games. A new Xbox controller with haptic feedback has been leaked, too.
How did this leak happen in the first place? According to the FTC, Microsoft sent a link to the FTC containing this information, and the Court uploaded it. Microsoft later got in touch to have the documents removed, but the internet never forgets.
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