Phil Spencer has no plans to delay Xbox Series X in any region

By Heidi Nicholas,
Phil Spencer says that they haven't started any Plan B for the Xbox Series X launch, as they haven't yet seen anything to suggest they won't be meeting their original dates. In discussing the Xbox One launch, however, he adds that having delays for the launch in different regions "hurt them", and that he would be "hesitant" about considering that as a strategy for the Xbox Series X.

Xbox Series X

Speaking in an interview with IGN, Spencer was asked whether the Xbox Series X team had a Plan B in mind for if it began to look as though the console couldn't be released as planned. "We have nothing right now that says we’re not going to make the dates that we’ve been planning", Spencer said, adding later that, "We haven't really started on any kind of Plan Bs” — such as shipping to limited territories. “I will say that having lived through the Xbox One launch... I know that significant delays in region launches hurt us. It hurts us with the sentiment of the fans, and every time I go to Japan I’m reminded that we were... nine months late in launching there with Xbox One." Spencer reiterates that they "haven’t started on that Plan B" but that he'd "be hesitant to do something like that”.

It seems Spencer is bearing the Xbox One launch in mind constantly, as he's often commented that they're keen to avoid any mistakes they might have made with their last console. In an interview with The Verge, he acknowledged that they were determined to learn and adapt from the Xbox One, which, according to his own comments, was more expensive and less powerful. His reluctance, after seeing the impact of delayed launches for the Xbox One, to consider launching the Xbox Series X with similar delays in different regions and to risk the impact of that decision on their relationship with their fanbase, is another clear example of this desire to improve upon the launch of their next console.

Xbox Series X controller

However, the COVID-19 pandemic is an unpredictable situation. Spencer has made it clear he's also putting the health and safety of Xbox employees first. "This is kind of real-time stuff and I’m gonna put the safety and security of the teams at the top, along with the quality product," he said, adding, "I don’t want to rush a product out if it’s not ready." He also acknowledges the difficulties of anticipating how remote working will affect production, saying, "building a video game from home, a large distributed team of hundreds of people is not easy" and, speaking about how he brought the Xbox Series X home himself, that "that kind of time with the console is important, and we want to make sure that we’ve got the right amount of time for platform tech that we’re putting in place to get all the testing done, so we’ve had to move a lot of that testing in the homes". He adds that "things right now aren’t easy, I think things are stretched, I can feel it in the teams, they’re stretched"; but, as he said, they still haven't had any indication that they won't be able to meet the release date.

Spencer's comments seemed to be more focused on the console itself, but he did add a brief note about the games. In mentioning that the team were "in constant conversation with third party partners", that "Hardware and system and service software... have to stay linked", and that he wouldn't "want to ship a piece of hardware where the platform's not completely there", Spencer added: "I do think that the overall Series X, if everything was there for the software and the services and the hardware, I don't think we would hold the launch of the overall platform for any individual game."

The fact that the Xbox team haven't yet run into any indication that they won't meet their planned release date, and Spencer's comments that there's no Plan B yet in the works, together with his obvious reluctance at the idea of delayed launches, all suggest that Xbox are, at the moment, feeling relatively certain of meeting their release date. However, this is an unpredictable and constantly changing situation. The Xbox team are adapting to remote working, and to how this new working situation might adjust how they reach their goal. And, as Spencer says, "the teams are the most important thing." "There’s no decision that I will make... that would compromise the safety and security of the teams", he adds. "So, feeling good but also just being eyes wide open with it... this is an unprecedented time trying to launch a new platform, in circumstances like this.”
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Hey, I'm Heidi! I've just finished studying a Masters in English Literature, but I've been obsessed with gaming since long before then. I began on the PS2 with Spyro, before graduating to the Xbox 360 and disappearing into Skyrim. I'm now a loyal RPG fan, but I still like to explore other genres — when I'm not playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, or being lured back into Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Witcher 3!