PS4 has a ‘huge lead’ over Xbox One, admits Microsoft

The Xbox One may not be able to catch up with PlayStation 4 given the ‘huge lead’ that Sony’s console currently has over Microsoft’s machine, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has admitted.

Speaking during a panel at the 2015 GeekWire Summit this week, Spencer was quizzed if the Xbox One stands a chance at catching up with its lead rival, to which the he replied: "You know, I don’t know. You know, the length of the generation… They [Sony] have a huge lead and they have a good product. I love the content, the games line-up that we have.

"One thing that probably I didn’t realise as much as I should have when I started in this role was the impact that the launch had on our team here in Redmond, the Xbox team," added Spencer. "Because it’s easy to read the blogs and the sites and my Twitter feed and see what the customers think of our brand and our product, but the team in Redmond took as much of a hit as the external community did around the launch.

"And I sit back and I think about an [organisation] of thousands of people, you’re down in the organisation and some words and some actions from executives kinda just trash all the work that you’ve done over the last three years, many weekends and nights, and you start to question why am I doing this? Why am I working so hard when a few crass comments can actually position our product more directly than any work that the team was doing?"

The executive went on to say that "job number one" upon landing his new role as Xbox chief last year was to regain the trust amongst his team, and that "being very forthright with them about where we were and our ability to do things like beat Sony was critical. What I’ve seen in the 18 months that I’ve been in the role is the team is getting more work done in a day than I would expect.

"Every time I sit down and I do a product review, mostly every time, the team comes in with surprise and delight around the momentum that they have, more than I’m able to add. And when I see that transformation of a team that’s questioning the leadership of the organisation to a team that’s motivated by the customers that we have and their ability to delight them, I see a team that’s making amazing progress. [Backwards compatibility] was one. We didn’t know back compat would work. We started it. A few ninja engineers went off and figured it out, how do you go from PowerPC to X86 and translate game code that’s about as time-critical as any piece of code that you would want in terms of its performance, and they got it done. So I would never question the ability of our organisation, but I’ll say we’re not motivated by beating Sony, we’re motivated by gaining as many customers as we can."

PS4 and Xbox One both launched in November 2013, although to date Sony’s machine has comfortably outsold its leading rival, with over 25 million consoles shipped worldwide to date. Microsoft has not yet divulged an exact sales figure for its flagship home console. In addition to posting strong sales worldwide, PS4 is also tracking faster than the multi-million selling PS2 in the U.K., where it is reported to have outsold Xbox One on a monthly basis since the beginning of 2015.

PS4 launched in Japan in February 2014, and has since gone on to sell over one million units in its home territory. Sony recently announced a price cut for the U.S., reducing the cost of the system by $50. No word on a similar move for Europe has been announced at this point, however.