Phil Spencer has played down the Xbox team's rhetoric around the relative 4K capabilities of its consoles, insisting that what many saw as negative comments about Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro were, "confident, but respectful."
Just after the announcement of PlayStation 4 Pro, the official Xbox Twitter account drew attention to the 4K Blu-ray capability of the Xbox One S, a feature some regarded as conspicuously absent from Sony's premium console. Later in the month, key staff at Microsoft both indirectly and directly called out the "caveats" that surrounded the PS4 Pro's native 4K claims.
"That's a punch to the gut in true console war fashion," we stated here on GI.biz, in reference to the more direct comments made by Xbox's Albert Penello. However, Phil Spencer doesn't see it that way.
"I am of two minds on this one," he said in an interview with Gamespot, referring specifically to the Xbox One S' 4K Blu-ray drive. "I think us stating a feature that we have in our box that we think is an important selling feature of our box is completely within fair game.
"I don't think we crossed the line there, but as it was going on I also made sure that we remain respectful"
"I mean, we made a bet on a 4K blu-ray disc, and they didn't. And I'm not saying they made the wrong decision and we made the right decision, but if somebody wants a 4K UHD blu-ray drive we have a console that has one, then we're going to make sure that people know that. And if people say that's console wars, I think they're wrong."
Spencer did not address the more forthright statements made by Penello, who said, "I think there are a lot of caveats [Sony is] giving customers right now around 4K. [Sony is] talking about checkerboard rendering and up-scaling and things like that." Nevertheless, Spencer believes that his team remained respectful. "I don't think we crossed the line there, but as it was going on I also made sure that we remain respectful. Confident, but respectful of what other people are doing."
Spencer continued: "You won't see me bad-mouth what the other platforms are doing, but I am proud of the product decisions that we make and I think that we should be able to talk about it."
He went on to address the claim made by Microsoft Studios Publishing GM Shannon Loftis that, "any games we're making that we're launching in the Scorpio time frame, we're making sure they can natively render at 4K." Spencer backed Loftis' "vision for her teams," but said that no such mandate would be given to third-party teams regarding native 4K.
"We shouldn't let gaming turn into an artform that's defined by a number," he said. "Nobody asks when you look at a painting, how many colours were used? Even the standards in the way movies are shot, there's also a lot of flexibility and artistic flavour in what's put in TV and movies. We should allow that same freedom in the gamespace, and not try to excel or review things based on X plus Y equals how good something is."