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Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, is getting into gaming’s hall of fame.

Spencer will be the latest recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 25th Annual DICE Awards on February 24. The awards come from industry peers who are part of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS).

Todd Howard, game director at Microsoft’s Bethesda Game Studios, will present Spencer with the award at the live event in Las Vegas during the DICE Summit.

As Microsoft announced its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Spencer received his latest promotion as CEO of Microsoft Gaming. Previously, he was head of Xbox and executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft.

Spencer has worked in technology and entertainment for more than 30 years, leading global business, creative and
engineering teams.

Phil Spencer hosting a session for GamesBeat Summit.
Phil Spencer hosting a session for GamesBeat Summit.

He joined Microsoft in 1988 as an intern, and he climbed through the ranks. He served technical roles in the development of CD-ROM software such as Microsoft Encarta, and online/offline products such as Microsoft Works and Microsoft Money. He helped run Rare and Lionhead, the studios that Microsoft acquired in the United Kingdom, and he became the head of Microsoft Game Studios in 2008.

Spencer helped get the company through the launch of the Xbox One S game console, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tapped him to be head of Xbox in March 2014. That was after disastrous messaging around the launch of the Xbox One game console left gamers wondering if Microsoft cared about them. That enabled Sony’s PlayStation 4 game console to outsell Microsoft by two-to-one in the console generation. Nintendo also overtook Microsoft with the Switch.

Spencer helped rally the company around a focus on gamers and what they cared about, and he was in charge of the launch of the Xbox Series X/S consoles in 2020. Microsoft has been selling its consoles with somewhat better results in competition with the PlayStation 5.

During his tenure, Microsoft has gone on an acquisition spree. It has bought Mojang (parent company of Minecraft),
Undead Labs, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Compulsion Games, Obsidian Entertainment, inXile Entertainment, and ZeniMax Media (parent company of Bethesda Softworks). And now the Activision Blizzard deal is pending.

It has also shipped big franchise games including Halo, Gears of War, Age of Empires, and Forza. He has also been a voice for more openness among the platforms, which has led to more cross-platform gaming. And he has overseen the launch of subscription business models with Xbox Game Pass, which now has 25 million subscribers. And he has helped launch Xbox Cloud Gaming.

“Phil Spencer has demonstrated both passion and leadership throughout his entire career at Microsoft. He’s responsible for countless impactful and pivotal initiatives that have reverberated throughout the entire gaming industry,” said Meggan Scavio, president of the AIAS, in a statement. “On behalf of the Academy’s Board of Directors, we are looking forward to celebrating Spencer’s important impact on video game history by presenting him with our
Lifetime Achievement Award.”

The AIAS Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for individuals whose accomplishments span a broad range of disciplines over a lengthy career in the industry. Recipients are typically individuals distinguished for their business leadership and are not necessarily involved in the development or the creative process. Through their leadership and ideology, these individuals have driven significant and positive change across the industry.

Previous recipients of the Lifetime Achievement award include Minoru Arakawa and Howard Lincoln (2006), Ken Kutaragi (2007), Doug Lowenstein (2009), Bing Gordon (2010), Satoru Iwata (2015), and Genyo Takeda (2017). I don’t know about you folks, but I’m planning to go to the DICE Summit, which will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

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