It's undeniable that Microsoft has stumbled out of the gate with the reveal of Xbox One. The company has backpedaled on nearly all of its controversial policies, as it tries to win back momentum lost to PlayStation 4. In spite of this, Microsoft Studios VP Phil Spencer says that this is the most "stable" launch by far.
"This launch seems more stable to me than the launch of 360. And the original Xbox by far was the craziest. We didn't know what it meant to launch a console," he reminisced. "This launch, it's the same team. It's the same team that did the 360 launch. It's a collection of people that have done this before. I think it's given us more confidence in how we've built out the plan from the original announce to where we are now."
Spencer points to Xbox One's late increase in CPU and GPU speed as an example of Microsoft's confidence in Xbox One. "Things like upclocking of the CPU. We've been through a lot of less-than-stellar hardware releases on 360, and we've got a lot more practice and QA in place to make sure we feel good about the hardware roadmap," he said. "I think in a way, we feel more confident on just the production plan, which allows us to make more modifications."
Was it normal for a console to make such a significant change so close to launch? "It was one of those things where we've made those kind of changes before as you get close. You set your hardware specs and your platform specs in place. Then you get real physical hardware not running on PCs or alpha kits that don't really look or run like the console from a heat and power consumption standpoint. So when you finally get to a piece of hardware that looks and feels like something you're going to ship, you look at your tolerances and you say you've got some room here. It was great, because we were a little conservative in our planning up until that point. So we knew we were going to make the change because it was a relatively easy change to make."
"The question was: do we talk about it? As soon as we change this, we have to tell developers. They will find out about it because we'll tell them. And then, it will get out that there’s some change. We figured, well, we're making the change. It was a deliberate change. We didn't want to make it the biggest news point. But we wanted people to know it was a conscious change on our part. If you look at the change itself, it wasn't a huge increase. It was just room that we had on both GPU and CPU so we decided to publicly announce it so that people could understand that it was conscious on our part."
While Spencer says it's not a "big" change, he does say that the boost has been helpful for developers working on launch games on the platform, echoing sentiments made by Capcom Vancouver for Dead Rising 3. "Absolutely. That change was early August/late July was done at a time where games have their asset base built and they're really working on their engine and the gameplay to finalize it. Getting headroom in the CPU and GPU definitely had an impact on the launch games," he said.