His name is Bond. Sarah Bond. If Phil Spencer embodies the paternal vision of the Xbox brand, Sarah Bond could be the maternal incarnation. Vice-president of the group and head of the division in charge of the Xbox ecosystem as a whole, she delivers a beautiful interview in which she gives her vision of things. Rare account of a major character in the brand’s universe.
A global ecosystem
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In this interview given to McKinsey & Company, an international strategy consulting firm , Sarah Bond looks back on her journey within the Xbox brand and how she sees the future for the Redmond firm. In recent years, Microsoft has made a strategic shift from a traditional console maker to a global ecosystem; the Gaming Ecosystem Organization (GEO) division was created in 2020 and was entrusted to the talented Sarah Bond. This gives a vision of what the video game of tomorrow could be according to Xbox.
In this interview, she talks about how video games fit together with other industries in entertainment and how it helps to bring people together, even beyond the borders imposed by the various market players (Sony, Nintendo, Stadia, Epic, etc.) in particular thanks to the cloud, which has become one of the priorities at Xbox:
Our vision for the gaming industry is that anyone should be able to play any game, wherever they wants. This is not how the industry works today. [À l’heure actuelle] the industry is divided by platform. It is divided by type of game. It is not really possible to play seamlessly on all devices. It’s more of a legacy of how the industry has always been. Now, especially with the advent of the cloud, with toolsets like game engines, it doesn’t have to be that way.
A culture of globalization which would go, still according to Mrs. Bond, beyond the simple game platform. She goes on to explain that video games must, in the long term, separate of its “one console/one network” binary vision to be able to scale. In short, it is the vision of a completely dematerialized market in which developers would have access to the same creation tools to bring their games not to consoles, but to online platforms. It’s what it calls “cross-network multiplayer”:
This is the capability for you and me to play together, even though we’re on different networks. You have to enable cross-save, so if I start playing my game on a PC and have to take my son to the soccer game, I could play a bit on my phone, and then my saved game has to transfer on multiple devices.
This is exactly what the company has implemented with the development of the Xbox Cloud Gaming. With the difference that Sarah Bond wants this system to be generalized, for all. This is how the Xbox Game Pass became a “platform” when it was originally conceived as a “product” according to Bond’s confession. The potential of this subscription service has therefore been at the heart of the strategic change at Xbox and reaffirms the desire to develop it massively to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Boosted by cloud technology, it could even be the first step towards the future of the industry.